On a whim I decided to watch The Pact last night, an independent horror film from the festival circuit that’s currently available On Demand.
I’m generally pretty jaded when it comes to most modern horror films, which, more often than not, are cheap scare fests with vapid, one-dimensional characters that reveal too much and rely too heavily on flashy special effects. I was fully expecting as much from The Pact, whose premise and above poster remind me of another recent horror film, Dream House, in which I was extremely disappointed because it violates all of the above.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case for The Pact. It’s a methodically paced creeper of a film that takes its time building up to the big scares, all the while keeping things sufficiently spooky with plenty of Poltergeist-like phenomena that made my hair stand on end.
Caity Lotz (whom I found quite mesmerizing) stars as Annie Barlow, a young woman who returns to her childhood home following the death of her mother and subsequent disappearance of her sister. We learn that she’s been detached from her family for quite some time, having survived traumatic abuse that’s only hinted about in the film, which leaves much open to interpretation later on. This isn’t a film that wraps everything up neatly in a bow; you’re left to your own devices to make sense of the plot and ending, which, frankly, I found refreshing. I enjoy movies that force you to pay attention to subtle clues and connect the dots for yourself. And because I’d rather you experience it for yourself, I won’t spoil anything for you.
For a film that takes place primarily inside of a tiny, two-bedroom rancher in California, The Pact drips with atmosphere. I’m usually not a fan of haunted house type movies that take place in such locations, preferring dreary, drizzly, or wintry climates to the sunny backdrop of California, but The Pact makes it work with grim lighting, deep, dark shadows and minimalist but effective score. I was also very impressed with Nicholas McCarthy’s direction, who makes his feature-length debut with this film. I’ll definitely be looking forward to whatever his next project will be; hopefully another horror film like this one.
6 out of 10 stars.