The Pact II is this year’s sequel to Nicholas McCarthy’s well-received 2012 feature debut. This time, the franchise’s fate has been entrusted to writers/directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath, who previously brought us the 2009 zombie film Die-ner (get it?) – not that anyone noticed. It’s safe to say they were still cutting their teeth on The Pact II. It’s not a good film by any stretch, but it is just barely watchable.
The first Pact film sees a solely female family tormented, thrown about, and abducted by a supernatural presence in their recently deceased mother’s home. Or so it seemed. The sequel picks up a few weeks after the first film’s conclusion. If you haven’t seen the original, the sequel will make very little sense to you. And even if you have, you may still find yourself scratching your head. Crime scene clean-up specialist June is the latest play thing for a Judas killer who returns in spectral form, although it’s unclear for what purpose. He’s pretty good at casting shadows, manipulating doors, and creeping up behind people, but that’s about it. And why does he bother? There’s an attempt at an explanation during the twisting climax – which, I will admit, did involve some moments of tension – but the twist itself is not only forced but utterly pointless.
This snooze-fest of a film gets a slight energy boost from the performance of the always sharp and charismatic Patrick Fischler, who plays FBI Agent Ballard. His poorly written character is full of unresolved contradictions and forced to perform hackneyed dialogue, but Fischler somehow manages, all while bringing an oddly sinister sex appeal to the role that just works. We also see the return of Caity Lotz as Annie: a wise move, and I can’t imagine how they would have lifted the saggy second act without her. Of course, the decision was also a double edged sword, since having Annie around only highlights how weak the sequel’s heroine is in comparison.
The main downfall of The Pact II is that it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what made the original film interesting. The first Pact is calm and quiet and deliberate, taking its time with careful pacing and buzzing sound design. It has a mystery worth solving, and we’re happy to wait patiently, only to be suddenly jolted into understanding. The Pact II throws all of this out the window with its clumsy cinematography and uneven tone. Flawed presentation aside, the film doesn’t even add anything worthwhile to the Barlow family narrative. Worse still, it’s bo-ring. If you loved the first one, you may feel compelled to seek out the sequel in order revisit old characters and settings, but you will almost certainly be disappointed by this well-meaning, bumbling imposter.
Also, can I just point out that there is nothing about a pact mentioned in either film. Oh, how I long to turn the cultural clocks back to a simpler time when horror titles said what they meant and meant what they said – and weren’t afraid to say it in three, four, even five words, if necessary!
Best wishes, and don’t forget to look behind you,