Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Review: The Pact (2012)

UK poster The Pact

Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) and Annie (Caity Lotz) are dealing with the loss of their mother, something of a bitter sweet affair since they both suffered at her hands, and there is very little love lost. Annie is reticent to go back to the family home to sort the affairs out, since it holds so many bad memories. It's only when Nicole does not answer her phone for days, and no one – even her young daughter Eva (Dakota Bright) who is staying with a friend (Kathleen Rose Perkins) – has heard from her that she decides she has to. Assuming Nicole has 'done what she always does when it gets tough' and resorted to drugs and running away, Annie begins the process of sorting the house. 

Trying her phone again, she is disturbed to find it ringing in the closet that the siblings were locked as punishment when they were children.
When Annie is assaulted and thrown around the room by an unseen force, she wisely gets out of the house, and seeks the help of local cop Creek (Starship Trooper's Casper Van Dien). He's dismissive and she ends up basically using him as a sounding board for her subsequent discoveries of both her mother's past, and a series of unsolved murders that all seem to be connected with the family history.

The Pact is Nicholas McCarthy's first feature film, an extension of a previous short film which basically dealt with the events of this film's first 10mins – the disappearance of Nicole. The fact he shows such skill and flair with both the shocks and the tension he manages here, shows us that he is a director to watch out for in the future. The film builds slowly, allowing the shocks to come naturally and not filling the empty space with fake jumps that so many directors do.
The first half of the film is a creepy and often scary ghost story, with Annie bringing in a blind stoner psychic Stevie (Haley Hudson) into the house to try and find out what's going on and what the spirits that are prevalent there want from her. After Annie finds out more about her mother's past, she begins to piece more together and the focus of the peril becomes something a lot more tangible.

It's a film that succeeds in scaring, and creating a real sense of dread and terror, and yes, I actually jumped – and not because of some musical sting or quick cut. The fear in what you don't see, or what you're afraid you might see works wonders here. Even when it begins to play out as a different threat in the final act, McCarthy piles the mounting dread on in spades. 
While not completely original, there are enough twists and jumps to keep it fresh, and the brooding cinematography and music add greatly to the experience. One slight gripe is the image used for the UK poster (seen above) doesn't really represent what goes on in the film, however cool and creepy it looks.
Cult classic status may well be assured for this, but in the light of such hits as the Paranormal Activity series and such, mainstream success should be assured, it certainly deserves it. Hollywood should be knocking at McCarthy's door!
8 out of 10

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