Movie Review: The Pact / Cert: 15 / Director: Nicholas McCarthy / Screenplay: Nicholas McCarthy / Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Buckner / Release Date: June 8th
I can honestly say that it is quite some time since I have seen such a genuinely chilling film as The Pact. The new horror outing from writer/director Nicholas McCarthy, and starring Caity Lotz, Agnes Bruckner and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), manages the difficult feat of blending unsettling insidiousness with visceral shocks to create a good old-fashioned, scare-you-witless experience.
After her mother dies Nicole (Bruckner) sets about clearing out the family house. Arriving early one morning to help, her sister Annie (Lotz) can find no sign of Nicole. As time progresses a number of strange and unaccountable incidents take place which convince Annie that there is something sinister going on, culminating in a full-blown supernatural onslaught which puts Annie's life at risk and almost kills her. The understandably distraught girl approaches the police with her story, where a sympathetic officer called Creek (Van Dien) offers to help her. Though initially sceptical of Annie's tale, he soon changes his mind after accompanying her to the house and experiencing first-hand a series of freakish occurrences which have far reaching and devastating consequences for everyone involved.
The Pact is a film which shouldn't really work, building, as it does, its central theme around constituents which we have seen ad nauseam. However, where other films may have fallen flat with a regurgitation of old clichés, The Pact manages to appear surprisingly fresh by keeping much of its horror unseen until well into the proceedings. When it does eventually reveal the perpetrator of the events which are terrorising Annie, it still keeps the details to the bare minimum, helping create and maintain a genuinely unsettling demeanour throughout the film's duration.
Without giving too much away it's a testament to the film's power to shock, that several scenes manage to make you jump from your seat despite you knowing that something extremely unpleasant is about to happen. As for the climax - well let’s just say this is the kind of thing that was designed to be watched through your fingers.
Relative newcomer Lotz puts in an accomplished performance as Annie, in what is for much of the time a one woman show. Most of her fellow actors are there for support, and her portrayal of a victim bewildered by the bizarre events which push her increasingly close to the edge before the film's final frenzied denouement, leaves a memorable and lasting impression on the viewer.
Beautifully shot in the muted colours of a sun-bleached California, and with enough twists to hold the interest of even the most jaded horror hack, The Pact is a film which makes you remember why you love being scared.
Expected: 5 out of 10