There’s a cubbyhole maze behind a farmhouse, a winding makeshift fort where a boy can crawl around and pretend he’s somewhere other than the doomed parcel of land his father refuses to give up on.
The location is indicative of many things about Australian director Nick Robertson’s new wild-animal thriller The Pack — it’s convincing enough for make-believe, but the construction wouldn’t stand up to a stiff wind.
Consider the farm’s financial situation: A bank manager visits, warning that if the family doesn’t take his final offer, they’ll be evicted within 48 hours. With that threat left hanging, he leaves…and is soon devoured by hungry dogs. Somehow, that seems to solve the problem — the foreclosure is never mentioned again.
Soon the dogs (seen mostly in context-less close-ups, because animal stunts are expensive) lay outlandish siege to the farmhouse, even breaking in. (They also swarm an investigating cop in an unintentionally hilarious attack.) The dogs are wily and fierce, but they’re aided by a remarkably stupid family — at one point the kids hide in a closet with slatted doors that even a small pup could push open. Surely the bathroom doors lock?
Ultimately, these feral pooches pose no danger that couldn’t be solved by staying inside, boarding the windows, and barricading the doors. It’s not a bad approach to the film itself.
Directed by Nick Robertson
Opens February 5, IFC Center