The Pact


There’s no pact in The Pact, which is indicative of this faux spooky tale’s guiding illogicality. A musty ghost story that morphs into a sluggish serial-killer mystery, Nicholas McCarthy’s film tries to distinguish itself by minimizing dialogue and settings, a stripped-down approach that extends to sketchy characters and a script rife with convenient, easy-to-assemble clues. McCarthy’s silence-is-golden tack can’t gussy up what’s otherwise a familiar undead saga in which Annie (Caity Lotz), searching for her sister and cousin at her dead abusive mom’s home, finds herself contending with malevolent spirits, shadowy specters, and other assorted bumps in the night. The writer/director’s camera repeatedly tracks his heroine through the house and zooms into dark closets that hold unearthly secrets, but his threadbare narrative has a tonal monotony that’s almost as enervating as the many plot points that make no sense, from Annie discovering that her mom’s place had a secret bedroom full of obvious-from-the-outside peepholes, to her failing to properly use a gun during a climactic showdown. While Casper Van Dien’s halfhearted Clint Eastwood impression as a grizzled cop elicits unintentional chuckles, the film’s scariest moment involves Annie thinking that, while relatives are sleeping in adjacent rooms and an unknown spook haunts the hallways, it’s appropriate to pee with the bathroom door wide open. Nick Schager