Indie horror can be a hit or miss endeavor for filmmakers and trying to do an original "ghost in a house" film seems to be getting harder and harder to accomplish. Luckily director Nicholas McCarthy succeeds on both counts with his nifty supernatural thriller, "The Pact." Playing like a throwback to the classic creepfests from the 70’s, "The Pact" concerns two sisters whose abusive mother has just died leaving them to get her personal effects in order. But when the eldest sister (Agnes Bruckner) disappears while staying at their mother’s house, younger sister Annie (Caity Lotz) reluctantly comes back to investigate.
At first things appear to be status quo, but when she wakes up in the middle of the night she finds that things have moved by themselves. A few days later when investigating a noise, she is suddenly attacked by an invisible presence that seems bent on killing her. What follows is an investigation into the mysteries of the house and an unraveling of just what kind of secrets Annie’s mother was hiding.
"The Pact" is a slow burn horror movie that allows the suspense to build in the silence. The camera will sometimes just slowly move in on a closet door and you’ll find yourself hiding behind your hands. When the clever special effects do occur (all done practically), they are both surprising and unsettling. Lead actress Caity Lotz is terrific and easily carries the film on her shoulders. Haley Hudson as a blind medium is also excellent.
Oftentimes low budget horror films are saddled with poor actors and weak scripts. Here, the acting is top-notch, the cinematography by Bridger Nielson is quite beautiful, and the writing is especially strong. This isn’t just a straight thriller, it is a character piece as well as a well-thought out mystery. (Even when we have questions in the end, it’s still fun to try to analyze it.) This is Nicholas McCarthy’s first feature and he proves to be a striking talent who takes the genre and breathes fun new life into it.
I won’t say much, but there is a moment at the beginning of the third act that had me grabbing my best friend and actively screaming at the TV in terror. It’s a total freak out. Hands down, this is the best supernatural thriller in years and the calling card for an exceptionally talented director. Don’t miss this. And don’t watch it alone.
Blu-ray special features include the Theatrical Trailer, Director’s commentary, and a 20 minute featurette: "A Haunting in San Pedro."