The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Pact | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Pact

Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner

Lotz returns to her childhood home for her mother's funeral only to encounter a supernatural presence which may be responsible for the disappearance of her sister and friend.

With it's languid pace, minimal sound mix and bare bones plot, "The Pact" resembles the work of Ti West. McCarthy expanded his eleven minute short into a ninety minute feature and therein lies the problem. If the story could be told in eleven minutes, inevitably a feature length adaptation will suffer from pacing issues and boy does this drag.
You would think the extra running time would allow for some characterisation but in this regard the movie is paper thin. Despite losing her sister and friend, Lotz never seems too cut up. Likewise her niece is never seen grieving for her mother. Let's face it though, character depth isn't exactly a hallmark of the horror genre and if the movie is atmospheric or suspenseful it's something we can overlook. This is neither atmospheric nor suspenseful though, just dull and uninvolving. It's hard to care about Lotz as she barely seems to care about herself. She appears to be modeled on Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2" which seems an odd choice for what is essentially a haunted house movie.
As is far too often the case with the modern horror film, we get a twist ending. As is also common, the twist raises a tricky plot hole. In this case the supernatural presence does something to one character but not another which would make more sense. Other subplots drift in and out, adding nothing but padding to the story. We get a creepy young girl with psychic powers and an aging Van Dien as a cop whose role only seems to service a "Psycho" homage.
Like Ti West, McCarthy's classical directing style is a refreshing break from the usual jump scares and fast cuts of contemporary genre fare. This gives me some interest in where he may go from here. Unfortunately he shares West's major flaw, the inability to write an effective script. Hopefully he can realise this himself as West seems completely ignorant of this fact.