Director Nicholas McCarthy has in fact made The Pact twice. His haunted house horror started life as a short film which played at the 2011 Sundance festival, causing such a stir that he was offered the money to make it into a full feature – only three days after it was screened.
So does this mini masterpiece translate when transformed into a longer, bigger feature film? The answer, thankfully is ‘yes’, with The Pact putting its audience through a grueling ghost story with enough genuine chills and scares to excuse its otherwise formulaic features and story line.
The story follows Annie (Death Valley’s Caity Lotz), a troubled girl with a dark past forced to return to her unhappy family home after the death of her mother.
Sleeping in the house after the funeral with the ghosts of her past floating around her head she is shocked when she experiences a real life supernatural attack that physically throws her from floor to ceiling and has her running out of the building vowing never to return.
With her sister missing Annie luckily finds help in the form of policeman Creek (Starship Troopers Casper Van Dien) who forces her to go back to the house to investigate where they discover a strange door-less almost empty room papered over which she claims she never knew existed.
As Annie tries to avoid becoming involved in finding out more about what went on clues carry on piling up and with disturbing dreams giving her sleepless nights and strange events constantly occurring it seems someone or something will not rest till she works out what really happened in her old home.
Shot like a J-Horror with more art house sensibilities McCarthy, who also wrote The Pact, crafts a creepy movie which delivers some truly disturbing moments throughout with some innovative ideas employed to scare the viewer, subtly shot with minimal special effects for maximum effectiveness.
Caity Lotz is a brilliant leading lady carrying the film and the audience with her on her dark journey. Annie may appear as a rebellious bike chick but her exterior hides the damaged and depressed little girl underneath it all which we start to see as the story unfolds.
Against convention Annie reacts and behaves much more believably than most horror heroines avoiding the house at all costs and running away at the first sign of danger rather than unrealistically hanging around and this heightens the bond we feel for the character and in doing so the overall fear factor.
As mentioned The Pact’s plot line and some of its motifs may have been seen and used before, but given the imaginative set pieces and other above average elements it is a very competent directorial debut. It follows in the rich vein of The Innkeepers and Insidious as a modern day ghost story, spooky and scary enough to deserve your attention.