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THE PACK
DVD region 2. Icon Home Entertainment.

The PackFrench 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..

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

 

 

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