DVD region 2. Icon Home Entertainment.
horror films have, in the last few years, gone to the extreme
with brutal and dark movies like Martyrs, Frontiers
and Inside. Franck Richard’s The
Pack is a fairly solid addition to this list, though
it also spins off into weird and unexpected directions.
On a road trip to nowhere, Charlotte (Emilie Dequenne) picks up
hitchhiker Max (Benjamin Biolay), and the pair of them make a
stop at a run down truck stop, where they are assaulted by a gang
of bikers, only to be saved by La Spack (Yolande Moreau), the
café’s no-nonsense owner. When Max disappears after
a trip to the toilet, Charlotte decides to investigate further,
but then finds herself captured and caged by La Spack, who has
been snatching travellers – seemingly to murder, dismember
and presumably eat them. But the film takes an odd turn about
the midway point, as a blood sacrifice causes zombie-like ghouls
to rise up from the earth to feast on the kidnapped.
I’ll confess, the sight of creatures scrabbling from the
ground made me groan (had I seen the British sleeve beforehand,
this would've been less of a surprise to me). It shifted what
had been an effectively grim, darkly humorous backwoods horror,
channelling The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and
The Hills Have Eyes, into something quite different.
But the ghouls (I’m hesitant to use the word ‘zombie’
because these faceless monsters are something else) are undoubtedly
creepy creatures, and while the siege finale is a little too familiar
to be effective, the film on the whole manages to deal with this
twist into the supernatural quite well – though personally,
I found the more grounded horrors of the first half far more interesting.
While often brutal and sometimes gory, the film has a distinct
comedic strain running throughout, helped by the performance of
Moreau, who is funny without going over the top. The biker gang
are a depressing cliché, but Dequenne is an effective,
if not entirely sympathetic lead and Philippe Nahon, as an ageing
cop who is not the bumbler he might seem, is amusing.
The Pack is a solidly entertaining horror tale
(or, if you like, splicing together of two horror stories), marred
only by an ending that doesn’t seem to known what it wants
to be – a small price to pay. At 81 minutes, the film doesn’t
slow down and really does seem to have something for every horror
fan. Well worth picking up..
IT NOW (UK)