Sundance 2012 Review: The Pact

The Pact

With all the films here at the festival, I guarantee that The Pact, what appears to be a simple haunted house tale, is going to be overlooked.  That’s a shame because this is a well crafted and solid piece of spooky horror, complete with some interesting twists and turns.  It was obviously created by a true fan of the genre and it shows.  The director realizes that shocks and jolts only work if the right amount of suspense is put in first.  This film has both the suspense and the seat-leaping jolts in spades.

I saw the short of the same name that this feature was based on at last year’s festival.  It was a great little ditty that relied on a lengthy amount of suspense and an open ended mystery of what lies behind a specific door in the house.  Lucky for me, that short is now essentially recreated as the opening of the film, but now we have another 85 minutes to fully discover the mystery.  It begins with two sisters having to deal with the death of their estranged mother.  One sister doesn’t want anything to do with her and won’t set foot in her house, and the other is doing her duty to stay there and put her affairs in order.  When the sister staying in her house disappears, the younger sister is forced to come to the scene of the disappearance and start unravelling things herself.

Piece by piece this story unravels itself in an ever intriguing fashion.  I enjoyed the fact that the director chose to respect the audience enough to let some things linger and take his time at the beginning.  Really introducing us to the main character and letting the entire scenario sink in before pulling the rug out from under us.  It’s this patience that lets this movies work.  The long shots walking down hallways or approaching darkened doorways give us a true sense of dread that most horror movies nowadays don’t take the time for.  That’s something I really appreciated.  Sometimes things appear at the end, sometimes they don’t.  It’s this kind of off-balance curiosity that keeps a viewer watching.  Like I said before, the director obviously knows horror and it shows.  In fact, as a horror weak myself, after watching this movie, I’m tempted to contact him so we can just grab a beer and talk horror movies for hours.  You can tell he’s that type of guy.  There are moments on screen that show it.  Maybe only a fellow horror freak can notice, but they’re there.

Now without ruining anything, let me just tell you that what I loved about this movie is that nothing is truly face value on screen.  You may think something, and it turns out something else.  Or you may think you have something completely figured out, and well, no, you don’t.  When all is said and done, and all the mysteries are revealed, sometimes this is when you feel let down by a movie.  Here, I didn’t feel that at all, in fact, I appreciated the fact that a lot of the questions I had earlier actually made complete sense when all was revealed. It showed a stealthy mind that was completely on the ball as he wrote the script (even though he claimed in the Q&A that he was rushed.)  Regardless, the guy knows what he’s doing.

It’s a solid installation in the haunted house genre with some serious jump out of your seat moments, as well and nail biting suspense.  The Pact is one that I really hope catches on, because it respects the audience and delivers everything it sets out to do.

Well done sir, and if you want to grab that beer and talk The Shining, Videodrome or Alien, shoot me an email.


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