Friday, July 06, 2012

Sister Issues: The Pact

Annie and her sister handle stress badly.  The former just runs away, while the latter self-medicates.  They are both attractive though, so midnight movie patrons will likely forgive them their shortcomings in Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact (trailer here), which opens today in New York at the IFC Center.

The two sisters had a horrible childhood, but we never really learn why.  It was so bad though, Annie has never forgiven her mother for it.  As a result, the ex-junkie sister is stuck being the responsible one when their mother passes away.  Then one night (in a Grudge-like opening scene) something bad happens to her in their old house.  Reluctantly, Annie finally comes to investigate her sister’s disappearance, suspecting she has simply relapsed once again.  However, after spending her own harrowing night in the family casa, Annie comes to understand there is something seriously sinister afoot there.

For some seemingly out-of-character reason, biker Annie goes straight to the coppers to report her house is haunted.  Of course, all this really gets her is an opportunity to indignantly protest her sanity.  At least, Creek the good cop is willing to swing by to take a few photos or something.

To be fair, the horror movie mechanics of The Pact are pretty good, including the first (and probably last) genuinely creepy internet search sequence.  McCarthy also blends the elements of the supernatural and psycho killer sub-genres fairly effectively.  Still, there is an over-reliance on unrealistically dumb flat foots and cheap scares built around sudden loud noises.  The clear implication that the outward Christian piety of Annie’s family masked something profoundly hypocritical is also a tiresome cliché.  Just once it would be cool to see a horror movie in which the psychopath was a loud mouth atheist jerk.

Again, it must be conceded both Caity Lotz and Agnes Bruckner have the right assets to play the haunted sisters.  They truly look like twins and already have considerable scream queen cred with the fanbase.  Evidently Starship Troopers’ Casper Van Dien is now taking the parts Michael Biehn passes on, but he is not terrible as the jaded but decent Creek.

You will see better horror movies than The Pact and you will see worse.  Fanboys will certainly want to see more of Lotz and Bruckner.  Overall it is a solidly serviceable, but only occasionally inspired chiller, probably best seen with a large and slightly buzzed audience during its late night screenings at the IFC Center, starting tonight (7/6).