Nicholas McCarthy directs his first feature film in newly released horror film, The Pact.
Following their mothers death, sisters Annie and Nicole reluctantly return to their former home full of painful and tormenting memories of their childhood there. Primarily the plot takes a definite path down the supernatural road, an eerie presence leading whoever enters the house through a door in the hall and to their fate. For thirty minutes we witness this presence haunting the sisters, most memorably in a short but shocking “Skype” scene. When Nicole disappears and Annie is left with the care of her daughter, she hunts down the history of the house and the victims that were once lured there. But as the supernatural presence reveals more clues and Annie finds a hidden room concealed by wallpaper, the element of the spiritual is forgotten as she unveils something a lot more ‘real,’ sinister and present among her: her family’s shameful secret.
The Pact is no doubt a combination of a series of familiar horror plots, borrowing from the modern haunted house tales such as Dream House (2011) as well as the covert serial killer film like Shadow (2011).
Though the film struggles to claim any story originality, apart from perhaps the juggling of the two sub-genres, its style is captivating and largely sets it apart from horror movies of today. McCarthy abruptly and unexpectedly cuts scenes from the house, to another location, from day to night, effectively keeping up the pace of the narrative and showing a clear transition of passing time. The original score composed by Ronen Landa is a strings and key composition featuring violinist Anna Bulbrook (of indie rock band The Airborne Toxic Event) and pianist Dan Tepfer. The score plays softly and wistfully throughout, forming a dramatic and menacing atmosphere as the characters creep cautiously around the house. At a height of drama the music does not crescendo but remains one continuous tone, creating an effective shock and surprise. This method is most notable in the killing of the policeman as a knife punches up from the bottom of the screen and into the victim’s neck, the music remaining constant throughout the frame.
McCarthy ties off the film nicely in a short and sweet demise of “Judas” (the house’s lurking killer), avoiding the tiresome 10-minute ultimatums that films often fall victim to. While he keeps the audience attentive and succeeds in juggling the dispersive elements of the story to inform a logical conclusion, he falls short a little in the plot’s overall impact. The threat all too suddenly changes hands and the discovery of Judas is a bit too easy with a quick google research and an unconvincing scene with a weegie board, loosely tied around her mother’s religious status.
While the plot doesn’t have much to boast, the stark simplicity, yet arty, cinematographic style will certainly leave horror fans smiling.