I had heard good things about The Pact going in. It’s being put out by IFC Midnight, which has proven reliable in the past. And, I am pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not without its faults, but The Pact is a good flick.
It’s not a tale spun solely from original ideas, but it’s a lot more imaginative than many of the other films I’ve watched recently. The Pact takes a basic idea that we’ve seen done before and puts its own spin on it, bringing some new life to the genre. And, it was fun to see a supernatural thriller that wasn’t completely predictable.
The Pact is Nicholas McCarthy’s feature directorial debut. He also penned the script, which is based on his short film of the same name. I am interested to see what he follows up with.
At the prompting of her sister, Nicole, Annie returns to their home town after the death of their mother. When she arrives at their late mother’s house, Annie discovers that something is amiss and learns that Nicole is nowhere to be found. While Annie hangs around, waiting for Nicole to return, she begins to experience strange and mysterious happenings; odd noises, doors opening on their own, and ghost-like visions. The happenings, although subtle at first, become more intense and violent as time passes.
There are plenty of scares and ample build up at the front end of the film. I found myself jumping several times within the first 30 minutes of the movie. There were a few generic scares along the way, but the film doesn’t rely on them to keep the viewer’s attention. The scares continue and only intensify in the last 30 minutes (the Ouija board scene was particularly jarring).
The Pact builds a taught, unsettling feeling. By the time it was over, I was rattled. That rarely happens to me anymore.
One of the things that works well is that The Pact plays on our fear of the unknown. For most of the movie, the audience has no idea what kind of evil Annie is up against. Many films make the mistake of either giving too much away in the previews or revealing too much, too soon.
There is a twist at the end, but it was a welcome change from the twists that have been used and reused to death. It was ultimately a satisfying ending. Although there was a lot left unexplained, I was mostly pleased with the outcome.
I liked Caity Lotz (Death Valley), as Annie. She is a relative newcomer, but she turned in a fine performance. And while the majority of the supporting performances were effective, Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) as Officer Creek left a lot to be desired. The scene where he is trying to relate to Annie, at the police station was really forced. His character was hard to watch and came of as a little ridiculous.
Haley Hudson was too over the top in her performance as Stevie, the psychic. I couldn’t figure out if her character was intended to be funny or taken seriously. I suspect that her performance was meant to be taken seriously, but it was too outrageous to be believed.
Some of the camerawork was a little shoddy and some of the scene transitions and editing made the film look amateur. None of the film’s shortcomings were dramatic enough to detract significantly from the film, though. Almost all of the film’s aesthetic issues could have been solved with a bigger budget.
The very limited gore effects were great. They were done practically and didn’t hold back.
All in all, I enjoyed The Pact and it’s well worth checking out.