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John’s Horror Corner: The Pact (2012)

January 3, 2013

I’ll start by saying that “this” never happens in the movie.

MY CALL:  I’m gonna’ be the bad guy here and disagree with the majority of online movie reviewers on this one.  See it.  Enjoy it.  Expect to be impressed in some ways.  However, the unevenness of the story prevents this film from meeting hyped up expectations reconnoitered from Amazon.

This is a much more fitting poster for this movie.

This movie has been getting solid feedback in the form of online reviews.  3.8/5 stars on Amazon, 3.4/5 stars on Netflix and 67% on RottonTomatoes.  This strikes me as way too high.  But I feel that folks were rating the production quality, acting, mood and “scare factor” instead of rating how well the movie actually worked.  For example, regarding the story, was this a mystery thriller, a ghost story horror, a psychological thriller, a slasher movie, some of these, or all of these?  This is a question you could ask yourself every ten minutes of this movie and change your answer every time.  It’s fine, in fact often good, to keep your audience guessing.  But when I can’t even figure out what I’m supposed to be figuring out…well that’s a problem for me.  For this reason I am in strongest agreement with IMDB’s rating of a humble, even bordering on harsh, 5.6/10.

The same issues sprang to mind while watching The Tall Man (2012) and Silent House (2011); both well made, but both seemed to miss their own points.  No degree of exposition when revealing a twist should justify 60 minutes of general bewilderment.  And I don’t mean I fell prey to a red herring and “fell for” some clever trick on the writers’ part.  No, no, no.  I mean that instead of being given ideas followed by clues/leads, we were only given idea after idea after idea, most of which never led anywhere and none of which justified the ridiculous ending.  I feel that The Cabin in the Woods (2012) succeeded where this movie failed with misdirection.

This movie is basically a stitch-work terror; a Franksteinian amalgam horror and ghost movie clichés shoehorned into one movie.  While few horror movies of the last ten (or even twenty) years could be described as original, I feel that the clichés rarely stack as high as they do in The Pact.  To its defense, however–if you forgive the story’s randomness–it strikes me as well-made and effective, with some shocking scares and a little disturbing imagery.  With how much time the star spends in her panties and/or tight little tank tops, this flick is a solid exemplar of Tank Top Horror (a horror quasi-genre discovered by MoviesFilmsandFlix founder and esteemed writer, The Hof).


After her mother’s death, Annie (Tank Top Horror newcomer Caity Lotz; TV’s Death Valley) moves in to her mother’s house and searches for her sister Nichole (Agnes Bruckner; Vacancy 2, Blood and Chocolate).  Objects are noticeably displaced, doors that shouldn’t be open are open, strange figures lurk about the house and our female leads are bullied around the house by an invisible force.  REC (2007) started the “being dragged into the darkness” trend, Paranormal Activity (2007) followed suit with “being dragged by an invisible force.”  Clearly, The Pact was trying to ride their coattails.  But the ghost movie clichés don’t stop there.  There’s flickering lights because of an incorporeal association with electricity (as in Pulse, The Apparition, V/H/S), Ouija boards, lights go out when ghosts are near (The Darkest Hour), and you can see ghosts in film and through camera views but not with the naked eye (Shutter, Insidious).

Some silly things transpire.  A GoogleMaps ghost in her iphone leads Annie to a mysterious room in her mother’s house that Annie never knew was there despite growing up there. Then, Annie gets in touch with a medium she knew back in high school, Stevie (Haley Hudson).  The movie becomes largely about this mysterious room and why the ghost gives a damn about it.


If you feel like you have no idea what this movie is about (after reading this review), then you know exactly how I felt while watching the movie.  Horror fans should give it a shot.  Non-fanatics should probably skip it.

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