The Pact (2012)
I love a scary movie that turns out to be far better than you anticipated. Probably because it happens so rarely and the opposite is normally true. It doesn't always mean they are outstanding, just not the turkey you were expecting. And here is one such example. From the trailer, this seemed like just another run of the mill ghost story with a pretty blonde running about an allegedly empty house, screaming blue bloody murder, while the local law enforcement officers scratch their heads stoically like the dumb hicks they truly are.
Well, there is a screaming blonde in it. There's even a confused policeman, but that is pretty much where the comparison with the above ends. The story is bled to the audience in almost frustrating titbits of information. Just slow enough to keep you guessing, however. The mood is as you would expect for a movie of this type. There are lots of slow dolly shots down hallways and flickering light bulbs are paramount, in setting an oppressive and forbidding tone.
Written and Directed by the clearly very talented Nicholas McCarthy, The Pact is sparing with both its use of dialogue and it limited tendency to make the viewer jump. When the scares come, and they do, the feeling is very visceral and frighteningly realistic. The story itself allows for this to be the case and you would be forgiven for thinking the plot would not convince the viewer had you known it before sitting down to view it, but it actually works very well and lends an authenticity to the more paranormal aspects of the film that would otherwise have you raising at least one quizzical eyebrow.
Of course, in most movies of this type (usually budgetary based), there are inevitable howling-in-the-breeze plotlines left unaccounted for but you can overlook these as they are few and the meat of the story is looked after so carefully. The viewer is never rushed to jump to conclusions about events taking place in front of them and the story is laid out by McCarthy with all due care and attention. As mentioned above, the drip feed of story is almost too slow for some (alright, me) but it has to be said that this approach worked a treat, keeping at least one viewer firmly on the edge of his seat.
The acting by all concerned is average, with the exception of Caity Lotz, who seemed to be head and shoulders above the rest of the players here, including a unusually sedate performance from Casper Van Dien, who still looks ruggedly handsome since his Troopers days, even with a shockingly grey beard. Lotz almost shines here and you feel for her completely. The direction for her character at the beginning of the film is a little cliched, but after the first act is run, things really do improve for both the fright fan and the cinephile alike.
In all, a very surprising and satisfying chiller that will impress almost everyone that comes across it. Well done to the whole ensemble and I look forward to seeing more from McCarthy in the future.