The Pact Review

Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Deen, Agnes Bruckner and Mark Steger
Released: June 8, 2012

Click here for The Pact official trailer

The whole haunted house formula is getting kind of old. New horror movies need to be increasingly original in their depiction in order to hook audiences. So what’s The Pact‘s hook? Well, it appears to be depicting the most obvious stereotypes imaginable (without parodying them), leaving huge holes in the plot, and refusing to explain anything in its conclusion. And in case it isn’t obvious, they don’t exactly do this in a good way.

The Plot:
Years after escaping from her mother’s sadistic care, Nicole (Bruckner) returns to her childhood home in order to arrange her mother’s funeral. During her stay however, she suddenly loses contact with everyone. Her sister, Annie, who has still not forgiven their mother for the treatment she gave  them, is now forced to return and investigate what happened. In doing so, however, she uncovers a secret about her family that may have been better off undiscovered…

The premise has promise. Films that deal with a troubled past are fertile ground for good horror. Some flashbacks of child brutality, a few jump scares, it’s the recipe for a decent if not good scary movie. But The Pact, well, it just fails in so many places.

For starters, the set up is awful. The childhood home is the centre stage for haunts and scares, yet it has no ominous presence whatsoever. A few brooding shots of a neglected home, maybe a focus on some creepy china figures gathering dust with a creepy soundtrack playing is all a good opening needs. Hell, even a storm cloud or something above the house would have been something to set the mood. But no, instead we are treated to a perfectly ordinary house with no notable characteristics whatsoever. With the exception of the laptop scene, as seen in the trailer, the house itself is as flat as paper and almost aggressively forgettable.

The narrative itself is no better. The sisters have a brief discussion about how their mother mistreated them which seems like it will be a central plot point in the film, but annoyingly, there is no follow-up on this. We are never given any real explanation as to why their mother acts this way. Similarly, there are no flashbacks, or even moments of reflection on their childhood during the film. It seems like just another ingredient in the horror movie stew, added by a chef with no taste buds or culinary/directorial skill.

The characters, in a weird kind of way, are the saving grace of the film. But not for the reasons you might think.
They are simply hilariously awful in their roles! Nicole has only one scene, which she plays totally unbelievably. No regular person talks the way she does on the phone. This is immediately apparent when she switches to speaker phone and then back again. Her relationship with her sister Annie is apparently just incidental, as the fact that the two are in fact sisters would never be known if it wasn’t outright stated.

Annie is an absolute train wreck of a character, in terms of both writing and acting. She comes to conclusions in no discernible way that the audience can see, and cannot read anything without speaking it out loud in a disbelieving monotone. Her delivery of many of these lines are just terrible, enough to elicit genuine laughter. There are other characters of course that fall into stereotypes that you would probably recognize from any typical 80s slasher movie.

The gravelly voiced Inspector Creek (Van Deen) has the rare talent of being able to send audiences into hysterics just by talking aloud. He sounds for all the world as if he’s trying to be Batman, a weird hybrid between the Adam West version and Christian Bale’s interpretation. As well as this, he appears to be passing himself of as a 50-year-old man despite the fact he is barely older than Annie herself. He also has a number of characteristics which just accentuate his ridiculousness (such as eating frozen yogurt to stem nicotine cravings). The fact that he is playing his part in complete seriousness makes it funnier still.

Other characters are less humourous, but just as stereotypical. Stevie is a psychic (apparently…we are never given any explanation for this either) and she looks just like one too. With excessively pale skin, bags under her eyes, and hair like wet seaweed, it’s unusual that she is by far the most boring character of the entire roster. Even her ‘bodyguard’ manages to be more interesting by being extremely suspicious and over protective, although by interesting, I once again mean acted with hilarious awfulness.

It is the fact that the narrative itself explains so little that is especially harmful to the film. When we do finally get some idea of what’s happening in the family house, it appears to be only loosely connected to Annie and Nicole, but is nonetheless forced upon them in an unnatural way. By the final scenes, the audience is relying on a considerable amount of guesswork in order to fill in the plot holes, but it is neither ambiguous enough to be intriguing, or concrete enough to be satisfying. Essentially, much of the connections made are sloppy and just come across as lazy.

As well as this, the film breaks its own rules, which is unforgivable. Some apparitions appear to be indisputably of supernatural origin, but are later revealed to be very physically real. The director genuinely seems to have some good ideas, and deserves credit for this, but he simply doesn’t have the creative ability to convey them correctly through film.

The supernatural entities themselves also have some of the most vague motives imaginable, which is made worse by the fact that the film tries to explain them in one very feeble theory. Furthermore, this explanation is made immediately invalid simply for the sake of a few scares which, in all honesty, are mediocre at best.

Overall:
A fairly tragic mess of a film, it trips on just about every hurdle in the horror movie genre. The plot is contrived and ridiculous, the atmosphere is non-existent and the performances range from predictable to laughably bad. To give it credit, there is a half decent idea tangled up in it all, but it is conveyed so badly that you just won’t care. The primary reasons to see this film are the occasional ‘meh’ shocks and to laugh at the caricatures. i.e., a perfect date movie.

Rating: 4/10

I have a daughter about your age…she’s a bitch too.” – Inspector Creek

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • Even now, a day later, I’m unsure what the ‘Pact’ from the film title actually is. I have a theory, but if anyone else can figure it out, please comment below, I would like to hear yours.
  • Apparently, Annie is one of the few people in the world who uses the speech function on her phone. Sound off: Who expected that to play some kind of part in a scare later? She also has a strange knack of asking ALL the right questions to a Ouija board.
  • Because I chose this film, the person I saw this with says they will hold it against me forever. I think if I apologize online, I’ll get forgiveness.

This film is kind of like:

  • Trying to adapt a very detailed twelve book series into one hour-and-a-half film

or

  • Hearing someone chant “I know something you don’t know, I know something you don’t know”, while you’re hungover on a bus.
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Source: https://legostevereviews.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/the-pact-review/ […]

  2. dumbest movie ever why would this entity attack Nichole in the beginning of the movie? Was it her mother? Was her mother trying to “sacrifice” her to her brother, who i guess is Nichole’s father and uncle? Who was the girl wit the necklace anyways, just some random girl killed by him too? How did the mother die? I mean seriously this movie was horrible! nothing was explained. I still don’t know how many people he actually killed and was that her sisters head down there in the basement? And all those years the daughters never had an idea someone else might live there or they might have felt “watched” due to all the holes he could see them through, come on stupid! and what the hell happened when Nichole went to that motel and then went in slow motion and then all the sudden shes running out of the motel with no pants or shoes and a little girl tells her she should wear a helmet. Could have used a lot more detail and explanation. Could have used better actors. And hey how about some sort of plot.

  3. […] https://legostevereviews.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/the-pact-review/ This is a much more fitting poster for this movie. […]

  4. I agree completely. One of the things that angered me most is that the uncle appears to be a ghost on the camera but is, in fact, completely real. It seems like the director simply forgot what was going on. Also, the ghost of the murdered woman can physically touch the sister, but not the uncle? Just so terrible of a movie.

  5. I couldn’t agree more heartily if I wielded a sign, wore a sandwich board and rang a bell!! lol This film made no real sense, links in the plot were missing or assumed and I am £9.00 down for the trouble! What a waste of time and money for myself but also for the cast and crew! Absolute rubbish! If I were the director/producer I would be embarrassed as such an astoundingly great lack of plot and character development. Awful, just awful.


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