A low budget horror with high values. The Pact stars Caity Lotz as Annie, a young rebellious lady who, persuaded by her older sister, reluctantly returns to her family home to help sort out her deceased mother’s belongings. On her arrival, she finds things aren’t as she expected them to be and supernatural events begin to occur. Her elder sister and cousin have gone missing, leaving Annie to defend her niece, who she has no real relationship with. The spirit seems to be leaving clues for Annie to work out the puzzle and we’re left to work out why the spirit seems to be helping when bad things are also happening. After a failed attempt at involving the police, Annie ropes in the help of a former class mate who has a sixth sense and the mystery begins to unravel further.
Technology is key in the plot of The Pact and is used inventively. There’s one moment where a pin spontaneously drops on Annie’s iPhone leading her to check the location on Street View. The result is a really creepy surprise. There are a number of creepy scares and traditional jump scares during the film, not too many to make me feel that they were ringing the dish cloth for a drink.
It’s a well written film, by Writer/Director Nicholas McCarthy, with a heroine who has a strong character arc. She manages to confront her own issues of responsibility and growing up, confronts her issues about her abusive mother and traumatic childhood and also deals with the supernatural events and drama that we see during the film. Caity Lotz, who has a vague resemblance to Gillian Anderson, plays Annie with a subtle strength, not over egging the rebellious nature of her character. The entire film depends on the acting talent and presence of Caity Lotz, luckily she appears to have a great deal of both. She’s definitely an actress whose career you should watch.
Nicholas McCarthy has managed to make the plot almost entirely plausible (depending on whether you believe in the supernatural of course). Thankfully there’s no “scream queens” here, McCarthy finds a real reason for Annie to go back into the house repeatedly without making the audience roll their eyes in disbelief.
The extras on the DVD include the original 11 minute short starring Jewel Staite (Firefly) and also three featurettes.
I am not a fan of the jump-scare-horror-genre so thankfully this wasn’t. The Pact is more of a very tense and frightening film, written intelligently. One unresolved question was why the title? Maybe we’ll never know. The Pact isn’t held back by the type of concept genre writing that a lot of films are affected by, it’s a simple ghost story with twists and tension. Nicholas McCarthy’s barely advertised debut film is free from pretention and speaks for itself. Easily one of the scariest films this year, it’s sad that because it doesn’t star any “names”, this well made and under-estimated film wasn’t given a big release but it’s definitely worth watching on DVD.
Written and Directed by Nicholas McCarthy, The Pact stars Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Samuel Ball. It’s available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray from 10th October and available on YouTube Movies.
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