The Pact. Film Review


Starring: Caity Lotz, Caspar Van Dien

Written and Directed by Nicholas McCarthy.

Rating: 15

Duration: 89mins

Reviewed by Guy Adams

I’m reviewing The Pact via an authorised PR internet stream because the future is a shiny place and discs are for squares. God knows how Kim Newman manages, we all know he accesses the internet via a steam-driven homunculus powered by the mummified heart of Rasputin.

Such technology is appropriate here though as The Pact is at great pains to be a modern picture from the off. Blackberry phones offer exposition via loud speaker, spooky iPhones ring in a dead woman’s house, Google Maps will prove haunted and the first glimpse of something amiss is seen over Skype.

In other ways the creeps are distinctly traditional, things bump and shatter in empty rooms, presences are felt offscreen and there’s even a child’s toy on a rocking chair. If it were to creak into life we could hardly be surprised.

A mixture of the ancient and modern then and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, writer and director Nicholas McCarthy’s first full-length picture knows its roots but is determined to grow-up it’s own man.

Caity Lotz stars as a young woman returning to her childhood home to sort out the affairs of her recently deceased mother. She’s haunted of course, and by more than whatever we sense inveigling its way into the shadows. Caspar Van Dien offers support, stubble and a gravely voice. He also has a method for quitting smoking that would see this reviewer marooned in his house, no longer able to fit through the door.

Not only is McCarthy’s ghost modern but it’s distinctly proactive too. It’s not content to whisper from the darkness for long, and is soon physically attacking Caity with a confidence not seen since The Entity. From there on the plot makes a resounding effort to go places you weren’t expecting. Along the way, the landmarks are familiar but they’ve all been given a slight twist.

The film isn’t perfect by any means. It’s been given something of a rough ride in the press. But I can’t help but feel a number of reviews were missing the point. Yes, the performances are not always perfect; no, the script isn’t always on the nose but the one promise the movie makes it lives up to: it’s scary. McCarthy knows how to build tension, shoot a scare and make his audience jump. That’s what The Pact is for and on those terms it’s a great success. To quibble about anything else is like criticizing a Ghost Train for having bumpy rails.