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The Pact Review

Review: The Pact / Cert: 15 / Director: Nicholas McCarthy / Screenplay: Nicholas McCarthy / Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Mark Steger, Agnes Brucker / Release Date: October 1st

A warning to the more squeamish of our readers: The Pact contains some truly horrifying imagery ever seen in a movie. Those of a weak disposition would be well advised to keep clear. No, not the blood and gore – I'm referring to its haunted house's ghastly décor. The wallpaper alone is enough to give you nightmares for a week.

Quietly impressive and casually chilling, The Pact might be the biggest surprise of 2012. Tuning in expecting to see a re-run of last year's Insidious, I was surprised to find something a little more interesting going on instead. In the wake of her mother's death, Annie finds herself reluctantly revisiting both demons past and her childhood home in search of her missing sister. Bad memories aren't the only thing haunting the old house – she finds herself flying through the air with the greatest of ease, dragged into scary cupboards and tormented by terrifying apparitions. And then, there's something a little more tangible to contend with.

At first The Pact seems like a mildly diverting haunted house story, similar in tone to the likes of Insidious and The Unborn (complete with the latter's obsessive glorification of its female lead's botom). However, a strong central performance from Caity Lotz as Annie and some very nice twists towards the end set it apart from the rest. It's nothing that horror fans won't have seen before, but feels less gimmicky and dumbed-down than most. The Innkeepers may be the critics' darling this year, but The Pact proves that big multiplex horror isn't a complete loss. There are some good jump scares alongside the slower, creepier moments. It brings the gore too, during a particularly gruesome moment involving a coat-hanger and some hair.

Not everything works quite so well though, and the film does suffer from some excessively silly moments. I was endlessly amused by Casper van Dien being in the film, if only because his name is Casper and he's in a film about ghosts. This is a shabbier looking Casper than he was in Starship Troopers, playing a cop while dressed like a rubbish fancy dress Indiana Jones and eating ice cream for some reason. Well, every movie detective has to have their weird little tics, I suppose. Casper's ghosts, in this case, are not so friendly, and for every jump scare there's one to make you laugh out loud. The best way to see The Pact is on a big screen in a dark room, preferably with a large audience: like so many horror movies of its ilk, it won't play so well on DVD.

It's pact – sorry, packed – to the rafters with chills, spills and a genuinely interesting story to boot. The Pact doesn't re-invent the wheel, but it takes its audience on a bloody good ride trying.

Special Features: None

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