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directed by Nicholas McCarthy
USA 2012

Annie (Caity Lotz) reluctantly returns home to attend her abusive late mother's funeral. Upon arrival, she learns that her sister Nichole (Agnes Bruckner, THE WOODS) has mysteriously disappeared, having failed to pick up her daughter Eva (Dakota Bright) from her friend Liz (Kathleen Rose Perkins). Annie suspects that her sister has simply taken off for a few days, but Nichole has left laptop behind (seemingly in mid-use) at her mother's house, and her phone is found inside the closet where they were sent to be punished as children. When Liz and Eva spend the night with her at the house after the funeral, Liz also vanishes and a supernatural force attacks Annie (who barely escapes with Eva). The police disbelieve Annie’s story, but there are signs of a struggle and two missing women. When the map function of Annie’s smartphone repeatedly points her to a nearby park where the last known victim of uncaptured local serial killer was discovered, Annie starts to believe that her mother's ghost trying to communicate with her. The further discovery in her mother’s house of a hidden third bedroom (with peepholes looking into all of the surrounding rooms) has Annie seeking out the help of a high school friend Stevie (Haley Hudson) with mediumistic powers to discover the connection between her mother and the killer (who may still be at large from beyond the grave).

The feature debut of writer/director Nicholas McCarthy, THE PACT – which originated as a ten-minute short that played at Sundance in 2011 – is shot-through with the usual modern horror antics that were tiresome by the time INSIDIOUS rolled around (shadowy figures darting across the frame in the foreground or background, David Lynch-ian surround channel rumblings, jangling music stings, jump scares), and the story is not particularly original. The execution, however, is refreshingly unnerving thanks to a long build-up that suggests McCarthy knows that the audience is going to be checking each line of dialogue and each visual and aural detail against every other recent haunted house film for borrowings or downright rip-offs (what is more evident is an obvious affection for horror forebearers). The entire sequence involving the medium's exploration of the house is excellent, but the film starts to fall apart once the menace becomes more corporeal; the climax, however, is still suspenseful (even if the stinger ending shot feels even more nonsensical than usual). Lotz is excellent in what feels like a one-woman-show. Casper Van Dien (STARSHIP TROOPERS) appears as an investigating detective but his role adds very little to the story, and Bruckner's screen time (in what is virtually an opening teaser recreation of the entirety of the 2011 short) is more like a cameo. Sam Ball, one of the two stars of the 2011 short version, has a showier supporting role here as medium Stevie’s violently-protective handler.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 6 July 2012 (USA)

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DVD Review: Entertainment One - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Entertainment One

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:25:12 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.86:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.24 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English HoH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Entertainment One

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.86:1

Edition Details:
• About the Cast (16:9; 4:53)
• About the Director (16:9; 4:34)
• About the Location (16:9; 4:07)
• THE PACT original short (16:9; 10:54)
• Trailers for TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART II, KILLER JOE, and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

DVD Release Date: October 1st 2012
Amaray

Chapters 20

 

Comments

Entertainment One's dual-layer disc faithfully represents the deep blacks of the cinematography without any apparent noise or solarization. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the one of the film's best assets in terms of scoring and sound design (a 2.0 stereo downmix is also included), and the optional English HoH subtitles are helpful in interpreting some dialogue intentionally muffled by loud music (although viewers who are not hard of hearing may not appreciate how it clarifies the sources of offscreen noises during suspense scenes). A Blu-ray (HERE) will also be available on the same street date.

Three short EPK-type behind-the-scenes clips, but the major extra is the director McCarthy's original 2011 short version (which played at Sundance in 2011) which is essentially what would be the opening sequence of the finished feature, but the main characters are sister (Jewel Staite, TV's STARGATE ATLANTIS) and brother (Sam Ball, who has a supporting role in the feature version). It seems like less of a short than a teaser (with many of the visual and aural elements from the feature already in place (along with many of the behind the scenes crew).

Region-locked viewers stateside can expect DVD and
Blu-ray releases of the title from IFC/MPI in November (extras and technical specs are unconfirmed).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Entertainment One

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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