The Pact, 2012.
Written and Directed by Nicholas McCarthy.
Starring Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Samuel Ball and Mark Steger.
Following her mother’s death, a young woman returns to her childhood home and struggles to come to terms with memories of the past, her troubled sister’s disappearance and a sinister presence in the house…
Horror and the supernatural have long held a fascination for many movie goers and this shows no sign of abating – if anything, scary movies seem to be more popular than ever. Good news then for genre fans and even better news when classily shot and curiously devised films such as The Pact are released.
Focusing on the troubled family of recently deceased mother and her two daughters Annie (Caity Lotz) and Nicole (Agnes Bruckner), The Pact is an unsettling piece eloquently dissecting warped human relationships. Featuring better acting and cinematography than is often associated with horror movies on the lower end of the budget scale, there is enough of a mixture of scares and mysterious goings on to justify the occasional poorly thought out plot point or cliché.
Originally starting life as a short, the inventive concept contained enough ideas to warrant a feature and does well to keep the audience guessing. Citing Dario Argento’s Suspiria as an influence, it is not stating too much to say that McCarthy manages to capture something of the intensity of that supernatural classic.
The musical score, an effective creation from Ronen Landa, keeps thing moving in unnerving, paranoid fashion. Topped with edgy camerawork and effective lighting, the mood is one of nightmarish tension with a touch of the surreal thrown in for good measure.
Located firmly in the haunted house genre, The Pact scores highly for drama and an almost narcotic eeriness. The character of psychic Stevie (Haley Hudson), a seer who hangs out in crack dens, adds to the tense weirdness on show.
Largely following Annie’s search for her missing sister and gradual uncovering of the disturbing events of the past, the film – particularly the first half – works well as a voyage into the unknown. Aided by the police’s Bill Creek (Caspar van Dien; Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), the mystery (and story behind the title) slowly begins to unravel. The second half unfortunately becomes somewhat formulaic, as the true reason for Nicole’s (and others) disappearance becomes clearer. There are still enough scares to keep the audience attentive however, but it is shame that The Pact did not stay true to the ambiguity and almost Lynchian strangeness of the opening scenes.
Despite these disappointments The Pact is still an engaging and curious piece well worth a look. Genre fans will appreciate a better than average entry into the mystery/horror world.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.