24th Jul2011

‘The Pack’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Yolande Moreau, Émilie Dequenne, Benjamin Biolay | Written and Directed by Franck Richard

France right now is arguably a boiling pot for horror. Whether it’s a movie like Martyrs, designed to make you think more about the subject matter, or like Haute Tension, an onslaught of pure violence, the French are never scared to push the boundaries of what we see on the screen. The Pack is one of the latter… in some ways. It’s a movie of two halves and these two halves get quite confused with themselves at times.

At the start of The Pack Charlotte is running away from life or that’s what it seems anyway. She’s a girl with an attitude and she won’t take any crap from anybody. This is proven when she gets into a verbal argument with some bikers. This argument, plus being alone on the road is what leads her to pick up a hitchhiker. They hit it off and end up taking a stop at a weird little village where the hitchhiker suddenly disappears and it’s left to Charlotte to find out where he went. In her attempt to discover what happened to him Charlotte is captured by a woman who turns out to be hitchhiker’s mother and Charlotte is help captive by the strange little family. As she is caged and tortured she has no clue what will happen to her as she is prepared for the coming night and a rendezvous with the Pack.

What is strange about this movie is it can’t seem to decide what exactly it wants to be. The first half seems to be a weird torture story where Charlotte is tricked into become a captive of the hitch hiker and his mother. As Charlotte is being tortured and this movie seemed to be going down the route of being more about sadism and her time in the cage in which she is places I started to wonder where exactly the Pack came into this? Were the strange family the Pack? Where were the creatures on the DVD cover art? These were just a few questions I wanted answers to, things were getting very confusing. About halfway through the movie suddenly switches pace as Charlotte and another victim are taken out into the countryside and hung over the ground like meat ready to be fed to something we’ve not yet seen. This is when the Pack finally appears; which makes the movie even stranger.

The main problem is that The Pack seems confused within itself as to what it actually is. The merging together of monster movie and torture is not dealt with that well and there is a stark contrast in the atmosphere between the two types of horror. This is down to the difference between the reality of the totally believable torture scenes, then the sudden switch to creatures coming out of the ground to literally rip peoples arms off, chew legs off and just devour them. There is no reason given as to why the Pack do not attack the family themselves (other than a vague hint that the creatures may be part of this family as they were once miners who were killed under the ground and victims “blood” make them return).

Even with its faults The Pack is an entertaining movie, it can just be frustrating as it does not live up to the potential that it could have. If the actual “Pack” were introduced in a more effective way maybe there would not be such a gulf between the torture element of the movie and the monster side. The creatures themselves are interesting and remind me of a more original version of the mutants in The Hills Have Eyes (remake, where the mutants are mining families that refused to move when atomic testing started in the Nevada desert). The Pack has a more magical back story that seems more based on nature than human intervention. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as saying this was a missed chance rather than a slightly flawed story that is in the main well-acted out, but just needs to be implemented in a better way.

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