[SPOILER ALERT] The Pact [SPOILER ALERT]
It’s day 20 of the Horror Movie Marathon! Mikey is in search of a good ghost movie, and this one promises an “unsettling presence”.
The Pact is rated R and is available on Netflix. At the time of our viewing, it has the following online ratings:
Rotten Tomatoes 65% critics, 41% audience
Once again, it’s early afternoon in the Hommel household and we’re watching a movie while eating lunch. We both take notes throughout the movie. Afterward, we conduct a simultaneous interview/discussion via Google Docs.
Mikey: It’s Christmastime in Horror-Land again! And once again it doesn’t factor into the plot at all. Why do they do it?
Solee: I really don’t know, but I noticed that, too. My best theory is that they are taking advantage of the enhanced juxtaposition between the traditional feelings of family, love, peace, etc associated with Christmas and the terror found in horror stories. I’m not sure that it makes that big a difference anymore. It’s a pretty played out idea.
Mikey: I guess you see that in this movie during the one reference they have: the little girl who tells Annie “Merry Christmas”, while Annie’s in the midst of a mental breakdown. Although that feels more like a juxtaposition against the completely broken family (and more recently missing family members) that she’s dealing with. Not so much the horror as the loneliness and sadness.
Solee: Well, nothing magnifies loss and loneliness like the holidays! So I guess it does do something for the tone of the movie.
Mikey: Not as much as if they mentioned it or pointed it out beyond one random shot of a Christmas tree and one comment! Seems lazy. Anyway, what else is going on in this movie?
Solee: The whole first scene was setting us up for a movie with Nicole, and then the movie is actually about the sister who shows up looking for her. I thought that was interesting.
Mikey: Yeah, she was outta there. Not a lot of screentime. It was funny how two of the characters simply vanished (not that we didn’t learn where they ended up), no fanfare, just out of the movie. And a 3rd almost as much.
Solee: That’s the kind of horror I like… when they disappear with very little blood and gore! It did add to the question of whether this was a supernatural baddie or a not.
Mikey: Actually, that was a twist I didn’t see coming – we gave the spoiler warning, so don’t complain! There was definitely a ghost, but the badguy was something special for Solee: a serial killer!
Solee: YAY! Serial killer! Squee!
Mikey: Better than Ryan Reynolds?
Solee: No way. This serial killer was actually pretty lame. I prefer to follow them, learn what creepy thoughts they are thinking, discover what twisted childhood event turned them evil… this was just BAM. Serial Killer. The end.
Mikey: He was certainly not explored. But there was a certain Sixth Sense element to looking back at the earlier ‘haunting’ moments and realizing it was him creeping around the house. In fact, that’s pretty unsettling (strange that it would be worse to have it be a human – your own uncle, in fact – rather than a disembodied spirit!).
Solee: I made a note of that. How creepy would it be to discover that the whole time you were growing up, there was a whole, live human being living in a room (and basement) that you didn’t know was there? I mean, he was slinking out to drink Dr. Peppers from their fridge while they were sleeping.
Mikey: He was. He’s basically you.
Solee: And peeping into their bedroom! Wait. What? No! I drink my Dr. Peppers right out in the open like a totally normal non-serial killer.
Mikey: The Dr. Peppers I know about anyway. Those peepholes got me – how could they not have noticed these holes in all their walls? I notice all kinds of scratches and dents in our walls!
Solee: I feel like they were not the most attentive of little girls. Also, their crazy mother locked them in the closet that served as the portal to her serial killer brother’s lair when they were “bad”. They were probably focused on other things.
Plus that wallpaper is hideous. It probably burned to look at it too long.
Mikey: That’s for sure. The wallpaper was a major element of the movie – so major it features prominently in the movie poster (actually just checked – they used much more tame wallpaper in the poster).
Hey, I think this movie actually qualifies as the “scariest” one we’ve seen this month because you made a squawking noise! And the moment when the split ghost steps through the doorway definitely had a physical impact on me. I didn’t jump, just you know, a manly tough guy reaction of some kind.
Solee: It was somewhat scary. There was definitely a jump scare that got me, though. You know how I love those scenes where everything is painfully normal until – BAM – you notice a head hanging from the light fixture or there’s a shadow that doesn’t match what’s in the room. Soo creepy.
Mikey: It’s worse because it actually was a real shadow. I think maybe what gets me is the opposite. The ghost loomed out of the blackness of the doorway. I knew it was coming, and it didn’t move fast, but it was an unsettling image!
Solee: Oh! Where she looked like a picture facing off to the side for a long time and then suddenly looked straight at us?
Solee: Yeah. That was not what I was expecting. I knew she’d look at us, but I expected to see her turn. What did you think of the ghostly disembodied hand pointing in the living room?
Mikey: Nothing scary about that (well, in real life there sure would be), but it was a fun thing. The ghost in this movie was very pointy. Pointing at everything. She had an agenda, I guess.
Solee: You know, if more ghosts were as communicative as she was, way fewer people would have to die to get their message. Just spit it out, ghosts!
Mikey: She was a friendly ghost. Speaking of which, they hired a zombie to fight a ghost!
Solee: That girl was on some HARD CORE drugs. Or maybe she was dying of consumption? She did not look well.
Mikey: In my head, the story is that she takes very heavy drugs, but it’s for a reason: to quiet the very real voices and images she faces every day.
Solee: Headcanon accepted. (that’s a phrase I’ve seen a lot in the comments of the Dr. Who facebook page I recently liked. I never thought I’d get a chance to use it!)
Mikey: And Daleks have head-cannons.
Solee: And whisks and plungers. If it weren’t for the constant extermination, they’d be pretty handy to have around. Although I’m not sure I’d use a whisk that had been that close to a plunger…
Mikey: Good point! So, this movie was very slow. And very depressing and somber. That’s super common in horror movies – they are the most blah and grim things ever (when they’re not manic gore-fests). And I was realizing as I watched that that is one of the things I love in horror. Just slow, grim, depressing imagery… just I don’t know why that would be a good thing, but I really dig those grey movies that lumber along and sap all the joy out of you. Sick?
Solee: Probably. I actually noted the depressing tone of the movie, too. Horror flicks are always really gray or brown or some other washed-out sad filter. As though things can’t be scary unless they are dreary.
Speaking of slow… there was WAY too much foot in that one slow motion bit. We had to stare at a close up of her foot for, like, twelve minutes!
Mikey: Kind of a #Horror moment! That shot seemed out of place. There was nothing else in the movie like it. I guess since we found out a moment later that it was a dream, they were trying to show us the “running through mud” feeling you get in dreams.
Solee: I know that feeling. But that scene did not make me feel it.
Mikey: No, I only got that idea in the next shot, when the door slammed on her as she was reaching for it. Until then I was mostly going “what is her foot up to??”
Solee: And then she ran out in her underwear and hopped on her motorcycle. Thank goodness the Merry Christmas girl was there to remind her that she needed a helmet. And pants. Sheesh. There were a whole lot of moments in this woman’s life when I was wondering what the heck she was thinking. I did not relate to her at all and so struggled to understand her motivation.
Mikey: She did seem a little opaque. Partly because she almost never had anyone to talk to, so we just kind of watched what she did and didn’t know why. I didn’t have a real problem with that though. She was trying to solve the problem, as good protagonists do.
Solee: GOOD protagonists SHUT THE DOOR when they pee.
Mikey: I actually think good protagonists never pee. It’s kind of a movie rule.
Solee: That makes me think of Pulp Fiction.
Mikey: I know what you mean! That’s the problem, movie characters can’t use the bathroom unless they have an ulterior plot reason! Like every movie ever where they go in and encounter somebody in the stall next to them, or something crawling out of the toilet, or argue with somebody while washing hands.
Solee: yeah… I kind of feel like I shouldn’t go to the bathroom ever again, now. Bathrooms are dangerous.
Mikey: Oh hey, what gets me is when a character says they have to go to the bathroom, but on the way they get into some hijinks and they just continue the hijinks, or run back to tell their friends or something… what happened to the peeing? You can’t just skip the bathroom! It’s not optional.
Solee: Blinking. Peeing. Sleeping. Sneezing. There are so many things that real life requires that get in the way of drama and good editing. Real life is a mess!
Mikey: Right, a sneeze means you’re dying of the virus that’s going to wipe out humanity (or you are trying to hide from armed guards and it’s dusty).
Solee: Speaking of boring real life things… It’s a good thing that woman only had one dress. It would have been much harder to tell it was her in all those different pictures.
Mikey: I never recognized her face at all, so yeah, good thing. That seemed a little too silly. They could’ve just had the character recognize her face, like human beings do with their brains.
Solee: She was pretty non-descript. She looked a lot like all the other straight haired, blond, white girls in that movie.
Mikey: She needed an eyepatch.
Solee: Oh! And about eyes. So, the serial killer had one blue eye and one green eye. And at the very end of the movie it’s pointed out that so does the Annie. I feel like we were supposed to see that much earlier, but I totally missed it. I feel like a major plot point like that needs to be obvious enough for us to notice, don’t you?
Mikey: That was okay with me, because it didn’t matter (actually, I don’t understand why they bothered) – she knew it was her uncle from the beginning, so who cares if there’s some physical marker of relationship?
Solee: I kept waiting for the reveal that she wasn’t actually a sister to her sister. That Basement Uncle was actually Basement Daddy. Or something like that. But that didn’t seem to happen.
Mikey: Whoa, wait… maybe they’re assuming we know more about genetics than we do. Mismatched eyes (heterochromia, Google says) might require a direct connection and that’s the big secret. Seems like a leap for a Hollywood movie to make! But there is a The Pact 2 – I was kind of wondering, since they made such a big deal of the eyes at the end, if she was going to turn into the same kind of killer for the sequel.
Solee: The ending of this movie left me VERY cold. I was confused, but not in a way that made me want to puzzle it out. If it weren’t for us talking about it now, I’d probably never have thought about it again. Not an interesting cliff-hanger. Just one that made me say “Huh?” and then move on with my life.
Mikey: Are you talking about the entire wrap-up, or that final shot of the hole in the wall?
Solee: The final shot for sure… but kind of the whole thing. I mean, either it’s a ridiculously simple plot or it’s more complex in a way that doesn’t provide enough clues to understand it. Or I am less clever than I think I am. But THAT can’t be it.
Mikey: Inconceivable! The final shot felt like the kind of completely meaningless bit of tacked-on noise that most horror movies end with – the hand from the grave trope. But the ending in general… it worked for me. I didn’t care about the eye stuff, just the general business of beating the serial killer and setting the ghost free and moving on with life. Pretty standard business! If there was a deep eye issue going on, it is for more clever people than us.
Solee: Standard, yes. I’ve seen too many movies this month for standard to impress or satisfy. I want something exciting and NEW. I know why movie critics always sound so jaded now!
Mikey: New is fun! But I think I liked this movie better than you did. Shall we test that theory now?
Solee: RATINGS! So there were some things I liked about this movie, but overall it wasn’t all that impressing. I’m giving it a very average 3 out of 5.
Mikey: I liked a lot of things about this movie! It really was scary, and it had a good twist that all made sense, and it had some good powerful emotional nonsense. But it wasn’t breaking new ground all in all, it was kind of average – but a little above, due to the good stuff I said. Hence my rating of 3.5 out of 5.
Solee: I can live with that. Did this satisfy your desire for a ghost movie?
Mikey: My hunger cannot be sated! But in deference to a moment in our last conversation, I think we’ll watch The Final Girls next. A classic horror trope!
Solee: I like when they get meta and make horror movies about how dumb horror movies are!
*If you have comments to leave specifically for Mikey, you can see this same interview/discussion posted here, on his website.