Two female journalists and a photographer travel to Europe to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances, only to find themselves embroiled in a struggle against a kind of evil they never expected.
Nichole Barlow comes to San Pedro with her daughter Eva to attend the funeral of her mother. She calls her estranged sister Annie to help her to resolve pending businesses, but Annie is too traumatized with the bad treatment spent by their mother and does not want to return to their childhood home. Nichole convinces her sister to come and she arrives to the funeral. However, Nichole goes missing and Eva stays with Nichole's cousin Liz. When Liz also disappears, Annie claims that supernatural events happen in the house but she becomes the prime-suspect. The open-minded detective Bill Creek assumes the investigation and realizes that there is something weird in the house. Meanwhile Annie summons the medium Stevie believing that the ghost of her mother is responsible for the vanishing of Nichole and Liz. But the woman warns Annie that there is a great danger in the house. Annie decides to go further in her investigation and discovers dark secrets from the past of her family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Underrated indie horror gem and my favourite horror film of the year
When I rented this I thought that for some reason this is part of the recent, underwhelming wave of exorcism films. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this features no Catholic propaganda and biblical incantations and after having watched The Pact twice now (the second time with a group of friends who all really liked it), I regard it as the best horror film I've seen this year.
The Pact doesn't re-invent the wheel, it is a fairly traditional ghost story (with touches of MR James and J-horror in its use of "haunted technology"), but it is the best directed horror film I've seen this year. The cinematography is always inventive without being flashy, establishing a real sense of place, important for any haunted house film. It also has fantastic sound design. The film avoids cheap jump scares to build a slow burning atmosphere of genuine dread. While neither weird nor surreal, the way the film generates scares reminded me more of David Lynch, than the cheap shock tactics you usually get in this type of film. I saw Lynch especially in the way a character gets swallowed up by the darkness behind a door. A scene set to a deafening rock music drone is reminiscent of a sequence from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
After the rather poor period haunted house films I've seen recently (The Woman in Black, The Awakening), which rely on all the clichés of the genre (dolls upon creepy dolls, ghostly children in white make up failing to look scary) I loved how this was set in an impoverished, modern blue collar town in the US. The house itself looks just slightly 'off' with a 'wrong' layout and subtly oppressive wallpaper, instead of being decorated like amusement park ghost ride.
The way the mystery slowly unfolds is cleverly handled and satisfying (and really quite creepy when you think about it). This makes for a great re-watch, when I picked up on a lot of hints and details that I missed first time round.
I'd never heard of lead actress Caity Lotz before. Playing a character who is tough on the outside but also quite vulnerable due to a traumatic past, she did a fantastic job anchoring the film emotionally. The fragile looking actress who plays the role of the medium you often get in haunted house films (here seemingly recruited from a crack den) looks and gives a performance that is genuinely disturbing. I had not seen Casper Van Dien in anything since Sleepy Hollow. His "He-Man" face always struck me as slightly comical, but he is fine as a sympathetic cop, looking a little more grizzled than in his Starship Trooper days
In some ways the film is reminiscent of the Kevin Bacon starring Stir of Echoes from the 90s, but I think this does a better job with similar material.
The Pact is only let down by the 'blah' title and awful promotional art, which looks like the dated looking CGI spook from The Frighteners, a visual that doesn't appear anywhere in the film.
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