Thursday, October 11, 2012

30 Days of Fright - 10: The Pact

A non-event is a terrible thing. That awful feeling that you get when something you were hoping would be really good or exciting turns out to be dull as dishwater can be so crushingly disappointing that it can ruin your entire day if you let it. Anyone who looks forward to anything in life is setting themselves up for a let down from time to time but if the only alternative is to never get excited over things then you are better off running that risk; that's really living!

The Pact (2012) opens on a downer, with a young woman called Nicole planning her mother's funeral. Nicole is trying to get her sister Annie to come home in order to attend the funeral and to help sort out the house. Neither Annie nor Nicole were particularly fond of their dear departed mum but Annie is adamant that she's not going to bother going.

One night, shortly before the funeral, Nicole is disturbed by something in the house and goes to investigate and that's the last we or anyone else sees of her. Annie does make it to the funeral but Nicole never shows, instead she meets her cousin Liz who'd been looking after Nicole's young daughter Eva. All three of them stay in the house that night and try to figure out where Nicole may be, assuming that she'd gone back to the old drug loving ways of her youth.

That night there's a series of disturbances in the house and Annie is attacked by some violent, invisible force. Liz vanishes from the house and Annie flees with the child. Annie goes to the police to report the two disappearances and the events in the house but, unsurprisingly, they're not inclined to believe her. One of the law men, Bill Creek (Casper Van Dien) thinks that Annie had something to do with the disappearances herself and invented her story to deflect blame.

Unwilling to stay in the house, Annie stays at a motel the next night and sees a series of odd visions. Annie investigates further and goes through her mothers papers. She discovers a set of blueprints for her mothers house and notices that they feature a room in the house that she was unaware of despite having grown up there.

Seeking help from an unusual source, Annie contacts a girl, Stevie, who she was in high school with who allegedly possessed psychic powers. Annie gets her to visit the house and go into the newly uncovered room. Stevie has a grand mall spaz attack and repeats the name Judas over and over again before she's dragged out of the house  by one of her friends.

Looking into the name Judas on-line, Annie finds the usual biblical references and also a mention of a serial killer operating in her neighbourhood several years prior and who had a strong link to her family...

Psychic Stevie: Pre-spaz. Check out her new show, late night on TV3

I have as of today seen The Pact twice, having managed to catch it in the cinema when it was first released. This is not a film for the cinema (I certainly didn't enjoy it there anyway) but I thought it might be worth a second look in just in case I'd missed something, or that maybe the cinema setting had just been too much for a small film. After taking that second look it's clear that The Pact has a lot of troubles stemming from one all-encompassing one.

The biggest problem is that there's fuck all to say about The Pact. It's slow, dragged out, shit that has a dodgy start, poor middle, and weak ending. There's little to redeem it and so little goes on in it that there's not much to actually review.

While it's a common complaint for a lot of films, in The Pact it is especially hard to find any level of sympathy for anybody in the film. The two sisters Nicole and Annie had a tough childhood. So what? None of that's explained anywhere so you never know what it was they went through. Maybe they were terribly abused or maybe they just didn't get that pony they wanted for Christmas. I don't know, so I don't care.

There's something spooky in the house that makes people vanish and it has something to do with a serial killer no one's ever heard of that has some connection to the girls family. Yawn. There's a supernatural element that is going somewhere, all to do with a restless spirit guiding Annie to some much needed resolution; but suddenly, there's a rational explanation for everything and the ghostly happenings are all forgotten, not that it really matters. The whole ninety-odd minutes is jam packed wall to wall with shit you don't care about because the film is just so boring due to the incredibly slow pacing.

The Pact is a stunningly slow film; it's so slow and dragged out it should be shown to the terminally ill in an effort to drag out their final days as while it's only an hour and a half long it feels like days pass during a viewing. The Pact has to be one of the best non-event movies of all time.

There are one or two positive things to be said about The Pact. There are some half-decent attempts at scares so maybe 7/10 for effort on that front, but it just takes too long to get to them and the gaps between the interesting bits are intolerable. The other highlight was seeing Casper Van Dien getting work again as the cop Bill Creek, and he has by far the best line of the film, though if you liked him in Sleepy Hollow or Starship Troopers, then it would be best if you avoid watching The Pact, not that it has anything to do with Casper Van Dien, it's just that it's shite.

Two Thumbs Down for The Pact.

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