×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Pact

The haunted-house movie is badly in need of a fresh cinematic blueprint, but it's not getting it with the routine and borderline risible "The Pact."

With:
With: Caity Lotz, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Sam Ball, Mark Steger, Dakota Bright, Agnes Bruckner, Casper Van Dien.

The haunted-house movie is badly in need of a fresh cinematic blueprint, but it’s not getting it with the routine and borderline risible “The Pact.” Expanding his much-discussed short to feature form, writer-director Nicholas McCarthy runs out of interesting ideas at a distressingly early point and concludes with a less-than-haunting third act. Pic will deliver minimal scares for IFC’s Midnight label on cable and latenight VOD appointments.

Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) is taking care of her just-deceased mother’s home in Los Angeles’ South Bay area, and upset that sister Annie (Caity Lotz) is refusing to come. Annie doesn’t want to enter the house, and her reasons are abundantly clear mere minutes into the film, with flickering lights and electricity that seems to have a mind of its own. A ghost (and possibly more) is whooshing around the place, though Nicole, naturally, is oblivious.

The devices onscreen are so cliched that it’s a wonder that McCarthy handles it all in dead earnest, with not a soupcon of irony. When Annie does show up, she’s greatly concerned by Nicole’s sudden disappearance, and some violent altercations and goofy effects convince her to go to the cops. Casper Van Dien hardly fits the bill as chief investigator, and besides, it’s Annie who digs to unearth the secrets literally concealed in the abode.

Lotz puts up a tough veneer with her motorcycle-chick look, and her performance anchors the action, but there’s little emotional basis for the family drama at the heart of the film’s backstory. Business involving a troubled relative (Mark Steger) comes off as arbitrary and disconnected, and not nearly as creepy as intended.

The stars of the pic’s tech team are Bridger Nielson’s diversified cinematography and Walter Barnett’s all-crucial production design.

The Pact

Production: An IFC Midnight release of a Content presentation of a Preferred Content production. Produced by Ross M. Dinerstein. Executive producer, Jamie Carmichael. Co-producer, Jaime Burke. Directed, written by Nicholas McCarthy.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Bridger Nielson; editor, Adriaan Van Zyl; music, Ronen Landa; music supervisor, Joe Paganelli; production designer, Walter Barnett; set decorator, Sandy Hubshman; costume designer, Azalia Snail; sound (stereo), Eugene Thompson, Chris Howland, Mike Colton; visual effects supervisor, Padraic Culham; special effects makeup, Autonomous FX; associate producer, Sam Zuckerman; assistant director, Dave Paige; casting, Lindsey Hayes Kroeger. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 21, 2012. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Caity Lotz, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Sam Ball, Mark Steger, Dakota Bright, Agnes Bruckner, Casper Van Dien.

More Film

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content