The Pact I & II
The Pact (November 18/15)
The Pact details the spooky shenanigans that ensue after a woman (Caity Lotz's Annie) returns home for her mother's funeral, with the disappearance of Annie's sister (Agnes Bruckner's Nichole) and cousin (Kathleen Rose Perkins' Liz) triggering an investigation into the house's malevolent past. Filmmaker Nicholas McCarthy does a superb job of instilling the early part of The Pact with a suspenseful, creepy vibe, with the opening stretch, detailing the circumstances surrounding Nichole's disappearance, effectively setting the stage what could (and should) have been a solid little chiller. Alas, McCarthy drops the ball with a midsection devoted almost entirely to Annie's tedious efforts at solving the central mystery - with the familiarity of this portion of the proceedings compounded by an excessively deliberate pace and lack of actual scares. It's clear, then, that The Pact's almost passable atmosphere is due mostly to Lotz's affable performance and an ongoing inclusion of better-than-anticipated sequences, with, in terms of the latter, the usual psychic-comes-to-visit scene playing out a little differently than one might've expected (ie McCarthy puts an innovative spin on a well-worn convention). Despite a small assortment of positive elements, however, The Pact fizzles out significantly as it marches towards its rather generic final act - with the concluding twists, which are more silly than anything else, ultimately unable to salvage what has become an ineffective horror flick.
The Pact II (November 20/15)
An entirely underwhelming horror sequel, The Pact II follows crime-scene cleaner June Abbott (Camilla Luddington) as she begins experiencing nightmares involving the recently-killed Judas killer (Mark Steger) - with certain revelations about June's own past forcing her to reach out to the first film's protagonist (Caity Lotz's Annie). It's clear immediately that directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath are looking to replicate the feel and tone of the original movie, as The Pact II has been saddled with an excessively deliberate pace that grows more and more oppressive as time slowly progresses. The movie's hands-off atmosphere is compounded by an over-reliance on dream sequences, with Hallam and Horvath augmenting virtually every sequence with an is-it-real-or-is-it-imaginary jump scare. The Pact II does, at the very least, boast a terrific central performance and a handful of effective interludes, with, in terms of the latter, the movie's highlight coming as a periphery character is stalked (and inevitably killed) by Steger's nefarious, seemingly unstoppable villain. And although the film picks up slightly in its human-centered final stretch, The Pact II ultimately does nothing to alleviate the misguided and pointless vibe that's running throughout this would-be franchise.