Director – Franck Richard
Cast – Émilie Dequenne, Benjamin Biolay, Yolande Moreau, Philippe Nahon, Georges Lini, Philippe Résimont, Brice Fournier
Release Year – 2010 / 2012 (US)
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I read about The Pack a few months back and was immediately intrigued after reading its storyline and it being a French given France’s insane ability to deliver good horror in creative and well-shot fashion these days. From start to finish I was enamored by what The Pack had to offer, and despite some faults found it to be an enjoyable and somewhat guilty pleasure of mine after reading many negative reviews on this piece.
While traveling a lonely road to nowhere Charlotte(Emile Dequenne; Brotherhood of the Wolf) picks up Max, a hitchhiker, and they stop at a truck stop for a bite to eat. Soon after arriving Max disappears, leading the worried Charlotte to search in vain for him, only to realize that she has fallen into a trap involving immortal blood-lusting ghouls.
The plot is as simple as it gets, and I never look down on plots that give me a simple and well-executed story. Things start off a bit slow, with character development and play going on between Charlotte and Max at first, then followed by Charlotte’s search for the first guy in a long time to treat her well and not be a prick (although her “type” is what pricks prefer). Soon after that Charlotte’s search for Max brings her face to face with a sect of people planning to use her for some sort of pagan ritual, and that is when the story starts to get good. It did not take long for all of this to happen, occurring during roughly the first 25 minutes of screen time. The next 20 minutes or so develop quite slow, focusing on Charlotte and her desperate search to free herself from her captors, but once the 45 minute “halfway” mark kicks in things REALLY get good with the introduction of our star players. During a late-night ritual we are introduced to a group of dead miners rising from the earth to feed on those who have been captured by Charlotte’s captors. The miners were very much like the “living dead” of long ago, slow moving and suffering an insatiable thirst for human flesh. However, in this case the miners cannot be killed with a shot to the head. Eventually we learn most of the reasoning behind what is going on with the miners, and while it was mostly predictable and not very creative the writing execution was good and kept me engaged even during the film’s many slow and dialogue-less sequences during the first half of the story.
Writer Franck Richard also serves as the film’s director, and I felt that he shined with The Pack, his debut film. From the get-go we are thrown into his dark and gloomy atmosphere, with was complimented by equally gloomy sets and locations that provided a heavy sense of dread in anticipation over the horror that would eventually kick in. Once things do get going his horror is incredible, giving us some very creepy dead miners that looked more like ghoulish creatures suffering the “zombie walk”, which only made them creepier. His execution of the actors involved was good, and while none of them stood out they each held their own weight and did not detriment from the film. In addition to the live-action FX used with the miners we are also given some good gore as well, which sometimes came in hilariously awesome fashion and others in horrific fashion, all of which I found very much enjoyable in this underrated (at the moment) piece.
Overall, The Pack is an enjoyable creature fest sure to please fans of such films. The story is an interesting one that should keep you engaged if you give it the chance, and despite some slow points it managed to give us plenty of horror as well. The direction is good and complimented the horror written into the film with some very creepy antagonists and good gore, making for a film that is far from spectacular but nonetheless one that I really enjoyed despite its faults.