When it comes to horror films, everyone may find something different to be scared of. While being attacked by a horde of balloons someone left as a gift on your doorstep in the middle of the night is one thing, manifesting fear in the context of film is another. What scares one, may make someone else laugh out loud and vice versa. But when the film is anything like Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact (based on his short film from last year’s festival), it’s really just an excuse to rely on the old loud-noises concept to try to frighten your audience. But a good horror movie should be more than loud noises and supposedly ominous tones. I’ve heard awful things about the original short film, and I honestly can’t see how it could be any worse than the feature length version.
I’ll give credit to the opening sequence. It features a girl using a Skype-like app on her laptop who eventually starts hearing noises throughout the house, feeling creepy drafts on the back of her neck, and having to deal with a weak Internet connection. Picking up her laptop and wandering around the house may sound like a good idea while she’s trying to converse with her daughter. That is until she’s standing in the living room and her daughter says, “Mommy, who’s that behind you?” See, creepy and effective. Unfortunately, everything that happens after this opening scene spirals into the depths of mediocrity and eventually stupidity blowing all expectations to the wind.
The story progresses into a mystery hybrid mashup of Insidious and Paranormal Activity as if directed by Rob Zombie. It gets far too muddled even by horror cliché standards. When a character needs to find pertinent information, however, at least she has the power of Google to compel her. Caity Lotz is our heroine and she gives a good enough performance, but everything is completely undermined by director McCarthy’s big “reveal.” I won’t spoil the surprise, of course, but let’s just say that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. However, while I may have initially outright hated The Pact, I kind of respect it a little more after having had to sit through Lay the Favorite and the mother of false advertising: The Comedy.