After the death of her mother and the disappearance of her sister, Annie returns to a home that she once vowed never to return. Upon arriving, she soon finds that someone or something doesn’t want her to be there either.
This movie has been available on Netflix streaming for quite some time, but I was never really itching to watch it. To be honest, the cover art really turned me off. After seeing a sequel on store shelves, I figured I’d finally give it a shot.
The Pact is directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and it’s based off of a short film by the same name that the director had made in 2011. There are some points in the story where it becomes pretty clear that it’s a short film that’s being stretched and added upon to hit feature length. I won’t knock it though. I think it’s an overall good story idea, and I’m glad the director was able to make it feature length and viewable by a wider audience.
The pacing of the movie varies. It starts off as a slow burn, then kind of drags in the middle, and it really picks up as it approaches the end. I will say that I was definitely interested in the opening scene of the movie, which features Annie’s sister Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) while she’s trying to plan and prepare for their mother’s funeral. It’s mostly a one-sided conversation via telephone between Nicole and Annie (Caity Lotz), and it becomes two-sided only when Nicole briefly puts the phone on speaker in order to multi-task. While this scene is very slow and dialogue heavy, it sets the scene pretty well. It’s through this phone call that we start to get a grasp of the rocky relationship that this family has and the degree of abuse they received from their mother.
This scene continues to start sprinkling in the unusual occurrences that happen in the typical haunted house. Nicole trades her phone conversation with her sister for a webcam conversation with her young daughter who is staying at a family member’s house while Nicole handles her mother’s affairs. She can’t seem to get a good wifi signal, so she carries the laptop around the house, which the viewer sees through some really good continuous camera work. If the atmosphere isn’t creepy enough as is, it only escalates when her daughter asks, “Who is that behind you?”
At this point, The Pact uses its first of many long cuts to black. They’re used several times throughout the movie, and I really enjoyed them. They really increase the tension because the viewer is anticipating what the next visual is going to be, and they come in at really great times. As an editor, I’ll also say they work really well when transitioning between scenes that are in different areas at different times. I was impressed.
While speaking about the technical side of things, I will also point out that this movie attempts to utilize some really interesting camera work. It’s almost reminiscent of Go Pro type footage, but in better quality. It’s mainly the motion I’m talking about. There’s a shot from the pedal of a motorcycle while it’s in motion and a shot following a knife as the person holding it is walking. These shots are really cool looking, but a lot of the time, I felt they looked out of place. It didn’t seem to match the feeling of the film to me.
For scares, this movie does have its share of jump scares, and they are effective. I felt though that the movie really excelled in the creep factor when the scares were atmospheric, and the movie utilizes this a lot as well. Not every scary image is shoved in your face. Some of them just happen to casually stroll by in the background. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil it, but the ending truth definitely made me squeal. That terror was very real.
There is one part of the story which I really didn’t get. Around the middle of the film, Annie gets her friend Stevie (Haley Hudson), who is a medium of some sort, to come to the house to get a reading of what is going on. That part I understand. The whole scene, and the character herself with her family, was just weird though. It felt over the top, and the family member that comes with Stevie made no sense to me. I just didn’t understand it. The scene actually made me really angry, even though it’s one of the best ghost moments in the movie. I understand that it was necessary in order to send Annie in the right direction for the remainder of the film. I just wish it had played out differently, namely without Annie getting punched in the face for like no reason. Weird.
The Pact definitely exceeded my expectations. There are areas where the story drags, and it may take a while to warm up to Annie’s character as the performance comes off as stiff at first. I would definitely recommend it for at least one watch if you’re into ghost movies with haunted houses. It’s worth it.
Check out the trailer below!