July 1 2012 – Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) is our favorite circuit to watch horror and genre films in Toronto. We reviewed the 2011 version here and declared “This festival is extremely well run and we have nothing but praise about it.” TAD director Adam Lopez ensures cinephiles have something to tie them over until October and the 2012 Toronto After Dark Summer Screening Series was just the perfect sampler.
Skype-ing from parts unknown, writer director Nicholas McCarthy delivered his intimate and interactive thoughts on the making of his latest thriller, The Pact. This quietly gripping low key horror is paired down to its essential elements as it travels the well-worn home alone heroine with refreshing insight not usually seen in this genre.
Struggling to come to terms with their mother’s death, sisters Nicole (Agnes Bruckner) and Annie (Caity Lotz)return to their childhood home to pay their last respects. But this homecoming is rife with spirit turning creakiness that would wake even the deepest coma patient. Nicole who returns home first becomes unglued as her compounding isolation and fleeting coping mechanisms only serve to heighten her paranoia as unseen powers take hold. Open closet doors always echo the unknown from which evil becomes the ideal portal to vanish. Annie, fearing her sister has neglected her motherly duties and back slided into substance, comes home and realises that there’s a psychic entity inhabiting this unglamourous tract styled bungalow. Now Annie begins to experience a series of intense and disturbing dreams that lead her to uncover something terrible about her mother.
McCarthy crafted some perfectly paced scary scenes without over playing his hand. The technology elements kept things modern while shift changing photos grounds things back in the unsettling dimension. Annie plays the little sister who turns tough as nails in the style of Jaime Lee Curtis in Halloween (which McCarthy pay homage to as she struggles to survive in the closet scene). McCarthy has the talent to unsettle and the style to pull it off and his talents will no doubt elevate him even more with his next horror offering.
Verdict: 3.5 / 5 McCarthy absorbs your senses with Lynchian fear.
Review by: John Dash