This review was originally published on January 22, 2012…
“The Pact” is a bad, bad movie filled with cheap thrills and more plot holes than I’ve seen in a film since… I can’t remember when. And trust me, I take no pleasure in ripping on a movie and I don’t get any kind of excitement out of tearing down someone’s hard work just to be a jerk. But, when a film has an entire audience almost wondering (and laughing) aloud at what the hell is transpiring onscreen and you yourself are right there with them, you kind of have to calls ‘em like you sees ‘em. This one’s a stinker that tries to shove too many half-baked notions into one feature.
To go into the myriad plot holes would make this review incredibly spoiler heavy and I don’t want to do that. Plus, there are some “scary” moments in “The Pact” and I think it’ll find an audience and fans out there in the genre world. But I wasn’t terribly freaked out by droning, foreboding music that, while it’s playing, launches whatever character is onscreen into the worst decision possible. Plus, as the film rolled on it became more and more convoluted and silly.
The basic premise is as follows; there are two sisters who apparently had a horrible upbringing at the hands of their cruel mother who has recently passed away. While we’re never shown what transpired, we’re constantly reminded it was really, really bad and involved a broom closet. One sister, played by Agnes Bruckner, is the somewhat responsible one although there’s mention of a substance abuse problem and a cousin is inexplicably watching her young daughter. She phones her renegade sister Annie (Lotz) to guilt her into coming home for mom’s funeral and shortly thereafter she gets abducted by an unseen force that drags her away.
The next day Annie gets on her motorbike and heads home only to find her sister missing and all of a sudden, a supernatural mystery is underway where clues from beyond the grave pop up to torment (or help?) Annie gain closure. Also, Caspar Van Dien plays a cop who tries to help Annie and we know he’s had a rough go because he has a scruffy beard, looks tired and his ex-wife and child live far away. The actors in this film are fine but it’s the “everything but the kitchen sink” screenplay that leaves the most to be desired.
Again, not trying to be a creep here but this film is so heavy on exposition in some areas yet never bothers to address so many things that needed clarification, I often felt like yelling at the screen. Basically, I think “The Pact” suffered from writer/director Nicholas McCarthy trying to do too much with a fairly basic story and there’s simply no way to explain everything he’s decided to include. Yet some things are explained in lame, expository ways which is almost as irritating as wondering what the hell is going on.
I’d much prefer near complete ambiguity, for the sake of confusing the viewer into a state of paranoia, that adds to the tension and story than silly gimmicks that feel ripped from any number of other films. And that’s not to say the film itself is poorly crafted. It’s shot well and it’s more than competently directed. It’s the basic story and screenplay that hurts “The Pact” and the results are laughably bad.