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Old 12-05-2012, 11:04 AM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,400
The Pact (2012)

I caught this on Netflix after reading a good review somewhere.

The basic story is that two estranged sisters return to their childhood home to deal with the recent death of their abusive mother. And then supernatural hijinks abound.

This is certainly a very low-budget film. The cast is very small. The biggest name on the billing is Casper Van Dien. Even the house where all the haunting takes place is a single story, two bedroom deal. But, this is also a case where the film makers focus on playing to their strengths as best as possible and, as such, it never feels like they are limited by the budget or that the film is cheap. In many ways, I was reminded of the middle act of "House of the Devil." Both films seem to be working off of Mario Bava's promise that all he needed to make a horror film was a woman alone in a room.

By the end, the story is not particularly original. It borrows a lot of ideas and plot points from one particular film that would probably count as a spoiler if mentioned by name.
It's Stir of Echoes

But, the film is also handled with a nice confidence, style, and intelligence, even if some elements of the story stretch plausibility to a snapping point upon reflection. The characters and performances were solid and interesting enough to keep me invested. Even Van Dien, who I seem to remember thinking of as a really bad actor does a nice little job. When it comes time to ratchet up the tension and deliver some scares, the film does a really good job of that. And when the few special effects pop up, they are really well done. I also appreciated how they manage to give such a small house a nice labyrinthine quality.

Oh, and there is a character names "Stevie" who, from most angles, is a dead ringer for Barbara Steele. So that was a nice little touch.

All in all, I can't say that this is some hidden gem. But, I did really enjoy watching it and would give it more than a passing recommendation to any. If you are looking for a simple, traditional ghost story, it's probably worth the time.

Outside of the credibility of the "big reveal" my biggest gripe is a bit of a spoiler, so it's hidden below:

I really don't like ghost stories where the spirit is just a restless soul who wants their tragic death to be avenged. That was my biggest complaint about "Stir of Echoes" and even "Lady in White." I prefer my spirits to be a bit more malevolent.
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