I can’t believe October is nearly over, and with it’s conclusion, my “Horrors of Netflix” reviews wrap up for another year. I’ve had a lot of fun (mixed with a good amount of misery, of course,) watching a handful of terrible, ridiculous, poorly rated horror movies over the past few weeks- and I hope those of you who have read the reviews have enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I’ll be continuing the tradition next October, since Netflix will undoubtedly have plenty more awful films to browse.
For my final review this month, I chose a movie that was continuously recommended to me each and every time I logged onto my account: 2012’s “The Pact.” A brief synopsis, from Netflix:
Feeling obligated to return home for the funeral of the mother she despised, Annie soon senses an evil presence in her childhood home.
The movie apparently did well at Sundance that year, which doesn’t really mean anything when you consider some of the other films that have received good reviews over the years and have turned out to be absolute garbage. I’ll take this one at it’s 1 1/2 star rating.
As usual, I’ll be spoiling the hell out of this movie- so if you don’t want to know what happens (or if you just really don’t care,) then DO NOT CLICK “CONTINUE READING”
The movie begins the way you’d anticipate a film with no plot and all filler to start off- agonizingly long shots of nothing of importance- in this case, a woman doing mundane things around her home/apartment- including but not limited to making tea and having a poorly acted argument on speaker phone with her sister, Annie (from the synopsis) on a Blackberry about their mother’s upcoming funeral. From the sounds of this fight, Annie and the as-of-now unnamed woman’s mother was/is abusive, and Annie isn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of having to come home and pay her respects.
In the midst of all this, the lights flicker, something sends a chill up her spine- and during a video chat with who I’m assuming is her young daughter- the little girl asks the eerie but expected question of “who’s that standing behind you?” prompting her to investigate the open closet door in the background once the connection is lost. There’s no jump scare, but once she disappears into the closet- the screen goes black. WOW. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. NOT AT ALL.
Cut to Annie, the stereotypical angry girl who rides a motorcycle and doesn’t have time for anyone’s bullshit. She arrives at her sister’s house, who we learn is named Nicole, and has- since investigating the darkness of her closet- gone missing. Upon some basic investigating, Annie finds her sister’s laptop- still running where she’d placed it in the previous scene- and calls her cell phone. Hearing it ringing from within the closet, the phone is on the floor- but there are no signs of Nicole. Considering how inseparable most people are from their phones these days, this for whatever reason does not alarm Annie- and she proceeds to spend the night in the house rather than, oh, I don’t know- maybe contact authorities? While sleeping, she has some dream about walking down a hallway in the house- which turns out to be her childhood home- before she wakes up to some noises coming from an adjacent room.
Whatever caused the noise has also opened the refrigerator, left a jar of what I think are pickles opened on the floor, and broke a framed photograph in the hallway. It’s clearly not Nicole, but once again- Annie fails to call the police. We’re barely twenty minutes into this movie and this girl is already making every rookie amateur mistake in the horror movie handbook.
The next day (presumably) is Annie and Nicole’s mother’s funeral. The attendance is poor, made even more so by Nicole still being M.I.A., and Annie is wearing the most unfortunate looking frock I’ve ever seen- but it still pales in comparison to her mom’s Wet N’ Wild eye shadow makeup job and 1980’s shoulder-padded blazer. The undertaker should be fired. Anyway, she meets her niece for the first time outside of the church- which resembles a Jr. High hallway with a picture of Jesus tacked up at the end of it- and invites her, and her niece’s baby-sitter, Liz, over to her mother’s house because that seems like a completely safe place for a little kid to be.
That night, after a boring heart to heart between Liz and Annie in which Annie essentially accuses Nicole of simply taking off (despite there being some pretty solid evidence that isn’t the case,) everyone is sleeping on a respective bed/couch when some more nighttime noises and doors opening wakes up Liz while Annie has another dream about a hallway. While Liz stares in confusion at the bedroom door she just closed being open again- there’s a shadowy figure next to her that she somehow failed to see in her peripheral. Is this seriously going to be the entire movie? Jesus Christ.
Annie wakes up, oblivious to the fact that her cell phone has turned on with a GPS notifcation of some sort, and heads into the bathroom for a late night pee when the same shadowy figure walks by the doorway. You know how this wouldn’t happen? Closing the damned door like a considerate human being. Annie goes to investigate WITHOUT FLUSHING OR WASHING HER HANDS. Oh my God- are you kidding me? She deserves to get offed at this point. I digress. She goes to investigate, grabbing a knife in the process to defend herself- and realizes Liz is gone. The same closet door that was ominous the night Nicole went missing is opened again, and as Annie goes to sort of bypass it during her search- some shoddy camerawork kicks in and she’s repetitively pushed and dragged around by an unseen force.
Annie makes it outside, until she remembers there’s still a child in the home and runs back inside to get her niece. From there, she FINALLY makes it to the police department where one of the officers in all his professionalism calls her crazy and still another, familiar with her sister Nicole, offers her ice cream while asking her to go over what happened at the house. Annie is hesitant at first, until the cop in question calls her a “fucking bitch” and this for whatever reason gets her to warm up to him- but then he mentions she’s a suspect in Liz’s disappearance. Annie contemplates skipping town- but thinks better of it since she wants to know what happened to Liz and Nicole. The cop reminds her that she also has a niece that has essentially been orphaned within the span of three days, so there’s that- too.
Annie gets a motel room, and while she’s sleeping, her cell phone turns on with the GPS notification again. Annie wakes up in time to notice it, and sees an unfamiliar address that she uses her sister’s laptop to search. Using Street View, Annie notices what looks like a ghost at the address- a slight oversight on the Google Car’s part. From there, Annie goes outside to get a soda from the vending machine, barefoot and in her underwear for reasons, I guess- when she sees the guy in the room next to hers crying. Once back in her room- Annie notices a decapitated woman in her bed- but before I could say “wait, what?” it ends up just being a bad dream. It’s enough to scare Annie so much she nearly takes off on her motorcycle without a helmet and no shoes.
Later on, while reviewing other belongings of her sister’s that she somehow has come into possession of, Annie notices her sister has kept a map of her home. This prompts her to return to the house, with the ice-cream loving cop in tow. Using her sister’s map, Annie uncovers a hidden door behind one of the walls in the hallway- and using some keys from her mother’s former bedroom- she’s able to unlock it. The room is essentially empty, with random holes drilled into the walls in strategic places that I’m assuming allowed Annie and Nicole’s mother to spy on them whenever the hell she felt like it- which doesn’t make sense because the room was hidden behind a wall- so how did their mother get in and out of there without anyone knowing? Did she just keep re-building and plastering it over and over again after she knocked it down? What the hell is this?
Anyway, when the cop says it’s not a lot to go in in terms of locating Nicole and Liz, Annie heads to some weird house/shop/I don’t even know. There’s terrible industrial style music playing WAY too loud and everyone there looks like they’ve done a fair amount of meth. Annie asks to see some girl, Stevie, who is spaced out of her mind- but the two apparently went to high school together and Stevie has some sort of ability that leads Annie to bring her back to her mother’s house.
I’m fairly certain Stevie is blind, but she can communicate with the dead- and once in Annie’s house, she senses Annie’s mother’s presence in the closet where Nicole vanished. Annie confesses the closet is where her and Nicole’s mother used to take them when they misbehaved- which seems to be accurate judging by how emotional Stevie gets as she approaches it. When she goes into the closet, and then the hidden room- shit pretty much hits the fan. Stevie senses both Annie’s mother, and Nicole- before she starts having a seizure of some sort while screaming”Judas!” over and over. When everyone looks up to wherever Stevie is looking- there’s a strange woman floating on the ceiling that Annie later confirms isn’t her mother.
Stevie’s friend gets her the hell out of there, leaving Annie to research who/what Judas is (seriously?) but- plot twist- it’s the alias of a serial killer that formerly terrorized the area where her mother’s house is. One of his victims? The decapitated woman Annie dreamed was in her hotel room- and ultimately the same woman that was floating in the house about two minutes ago. I’m sorry- what the hell does this have to do with her mother, her sister, her cousin, or her mother’s weird spy room?
Elsewhere, Officer Ice Cream is looking through photos he had taken in Annie’s mother’s home when a ghostly hand, visible in one of the photos, seems to be pointing him towards a painting in the picture- aaaaand that’s the end of that scene.
Annie heads to the address that kept randomly popping up on her GPS- the Street View scene where she spotted the ghostly image matching a photograph her mother had previously framed in the home (the one that was broken during Annie’s first night in the house.) There’s nothing noteworthy, except she notices the church where her mother’s funeral took place nearby the scene. It basically just opens the door for Officer Ice Cream to break into her home while she’s gone to investigate what he thinks he saw in the photographs he’d previously taken. He notices a discrepancy in the layout of the closet, and when he sets the camera down to investigate further- that shadowy figure makes another appearance through the lens cap. It sort of looks like the aliens from the movie ‘Signs.’
At the church, Annie spots a photo of her mom in her later years on one of the community boards. There’s also earlier ones, from the 80’s. In that particular photo, Annie and Nicole’s mom seems to be BFFs with the live-version of the ghost she’s been seeing around. Oh, and her uncle- whom she’d never met and didn’t know existed- is also in the photo. ALSO? He’s Judas, the serial killer. Well then.
Officer Ice Cream is in Annie’s mother’s bedroom when he gets surprised attacked and shanked in the neck- left to bleed out all over the floor, meanwhile- Annie gets Stevie on the phone who tells her that the ghost they saw in the house wasn’t trying to kill them- but show them something. She’s willing to give Annie step-by-step instructions to help her solve this thing- which apparently includes ruining her hardwood floors.
The seance goes well, at first- with the ghost communicating with Annie confirming that she was, in fact, Annie’s mother’s friend- and that yes, indeed- Annie’s uncle murdered her. When Annie asks what the ghost wants her to do/see- the word “BELOW” is spelled out. Without any warning at all, a hatch on the floor that everyone failed to notice in the secret room opens up. Annie hides, just as her uncle- Judas- emerges and is all creepy and gross looking. He leaves to be creepy and gross in the kitchen- and Annie uses the peepholes in the room to watch his every move until she decides to check things out in the cellar area where he crawled out of.
Officer Ice Cream’s body is down there- as are a few other people- and Annie takes the cop’s gun before climbing back out and causing a racket as she attempts to load it. Her uncle literally CRAWLS back into the room because I cannot stress it enough, he’s creepy and gross- and before Annie can get a shot, a punch, a kick- ANYTHING useful to defend herself- he smashes her over the head with a piece of wood.
Annie wakes up, bound in the closet- but the bump on the head has finally made her resourceful. She grabs a coat hanger and bends it to make a weapon just as Judas comes in to finish her off with a knife. He does cut her pretty good, but Annie gets the upper hand- not only shanking him with the hanger but getting a hold of the knife, too- which she uses to free herself. When she’s nearly overpowered- the ghost of her mother’s friend FINALLY makes herself useful and drags Annie to safety and, more specifically- the gun she’d dropped. Annie kills her uncle- and does what any reasonable person would do after surviving such an ordeal…
… She gets her hair done.
Okay, I’ll give her a little more credit- she gets her hair done AND sells her mother’s house AND gets custody of her niece. It’s a happy ending for Annie, who curls up beside the little girl in the hotel they’re staying at for the time being. Meanwhile, at her mother’s house- which is being renovated, repainted, etc. Judas wakes up- despite being shot in the head and despite the fact that his body would have been moved WAAAAAY earlier.
No, really. What?
I’m still confused as to what ‘The Pact’ actually was? Was it a pact between Annie and Nicole’s mom and their uncle? Why did the ghost kick the shit out of Annie at the beginning when all it wanted to do was help her? What happened to Nicole and Liz? WHAT. IS. THIS. MOVIE.
You know what? I can absolutely wait until next October to do this again. Screw this. Screw these movies. I’m tapping out. I’m done.