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The Pact

The Pact

Released 8 June 2012
Director Nicholas McCarthy

Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Agnes Bruckner, Mark Steger, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Sam Ball
Writer(s) Nicholas McCarthy
Producer(s) Ross M. Dinerstein
Origin United States
Running Time 89 minutes
Genre Horror, mystery, thriller
Rating 15

Quick, clever scares.

A case of heterochromia iridium, an absent father, a dead mother, a missing sister, a strange presence and a spooky house and you pretty much sum up The Pact (and a fair few other bog standard horror films too, I'll bet). But The Pact isn't your bog standard horror, in fact, the scares are perfectly executed and all those familiar features of storyline have that extra element of finesse.

Melissa George-alike Caity Lotz plays Annie, a tough, self-contained and confident heroine, who utters intimations of a dark past when she returns to her hometown for her mother's funeral. Soon the supernatural takes flight and with family members missing and a mystery that seems to have a connection to her, she begins to investigate. Coming along for the ride are Casper Van Dien as ice-cream-eating gravel-voiced gumshoe Detective Creek and Haley Hudson as ethereal blind psychic Stevie.

A close, claustrophobic film with a small set, nine tenths of the actions occurring in a small bungalow house, in The Pact the haunted house genre takes a turn for the better. A film which despite ghostly flair and spooky happenings, all seems very rooted in the real, The Pact has a series of solid performances (apart from a pretty laughable Van Dien) and a narrative that allows you to suspend the requisite amount of belief necessary to sympathise and scare yourself along with the characters. Importantly, for any contemporary horror, it avoids the long thought about difficulties of the horror genre and technology (mobile phones and internet mediums) by integrating them within the story in a way that doesn't make them its central pivot. We aren't lead into some out of the way area with no mobile coverage and a good scare doesn't necessitate a phone line going down or brief forgetting of google. Similarly, there aren't any Ringu-esque possessed videotapes and it doesn't do anything as silly as modernising that idea up to blu-ray. Instead, there are smart phones, skype, googlemaps, wikipedia, search engines and Siri, alongside more Victorian elements like mediums, spirit photography and seances, making a welcome mix of the old and new.

The Pact made me jump, hide my eyes and has enough original twisty and turny entertainment to keep anyone interested. A summertime sleeper hit that might just leave you sleepless!

- Cormac O’Brien