The Pact (2012)
The Pact is an enjoyable, yet simultaneously frustrating small budget independent horror movie. The UK poster is a prime example of this, as it clearly indicates that the film is of the horror genre but contains imagery that is not seen in the movie at all. The very title itself doesn't really have any bearing on the story. However, there are still aspects of the film that are noteworthy and overall The Pact shows more promise than a lot of the competition. The story is a traditional favourite of the horror genre. Annie (Caity Lotz) returns to her mother home to attend her funeral. On arrival, she finds that her sister has gone missing and that all is not as it seems at the family home. Family secrets and supernatural goings on slowly emerge.
Writer and director Nicholas McCarthy has remade his own short film and expanded it into this feature length presentation, taking many classic themes and tricks from the horror genre and giving them a modern makeover. Skype and Google Maps are used to deliver shocks instead of photos or mirrors. Research is carried out via the internet rather than using microfilm at the library. The movie takes place mainly in one house and has a strong claustrophobic atmosphere. Caity Lotz carries the story with a good performance as strong but socially isolated heroine. Casper Van Dien plays an understanding detective and there is a rather interesting turn by Haley Hudson as a blind medium.
The Pact takes an interesting change in direction in the third act where the supernatural plot-line segues into a new one featuring an earthly killer. The conclusion is formulaic but perfectly adequate and the movie is overall satisfying. Yet despite its positive attributes there are still a number of flaws in the proceedings. The transition from supernatural scares to physical violence is a change in direction that some may find too radical. The narrative strives to create a strong independent female lead then spend a lot of time continuously looking down her cleavage. The ending resolves the story perfectly well but then adds a rather illogical coda. Why do horror film makers feel obliged to do this?
The Pact did receive a UK release back in 2012 although it was somewhat limited. Although not perfect it does have some refreshingly honest scares to offer and is a welcome alternative to more contrived pictures such as The Devil Inside and the Paranormal Activity series. The horror genre needs to re-assert itself by returning to its roots. Many of the finest examples of the genre were made on low budgets, driven by passion and a true understanding of the medium. Nicholas McCarthy has shown with The Pact that he has talent and I certainly look forward to his next project. Let us hope that this movie can pave the way for other comparable material so we can escape the current obsession with found footage movies and Hollywood's current addiction to remaking and cannibalising it's past.