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One of the many things for which we must thank the ever-expanding DVD market is the influx of films that may not have made it to the local megaplex. Unfortunately, DVD is a double-edged sword. It also provides us with godless swill like the recent French import The Pack.
The Pack follows a young woman named Charlotte (Émilie Dequenne), who is on the road for no apparent reason. When she happens upon a wayward hitchhiker, in an uncharacteristic act of kindness and stupidity, she decides to give him a ride. Think you know where this movie is going? Would you have guessed flesh-eating zombie/mole people? Truth be told, I wouldn’t have either. I say “zombie/mole people” because, even after having watched the film, I’m not entirely sure what they were. Of course, even noting this implies that I care to know. I spent a solid 84 minutes with The Pack and I can tell you that it was more than enough for me.
That’s the main problem with a movie like The Pack: It spends too long asking probing questions and not providing enough character development or blood splatter to make its audience care for a concrete resolution. Plenty of movies have this problem, but to find it in a movie as short as The Pack is a sure sign that the movie is riddled with problems, the least of which is a satisfying ending. Even now, the only reason I find myself so fixated on the ending (besides the deeply troubling image of a woman in at least her third trimester smoking a cigarette) is that it was the last thing that I saw.
Truthfully, the trouble starts well before the movie ends. In fact, if I had to pinpoint a moment where I knew the movie was going downhill, I’d point to mere seconds after the opening credits. When Charlotte is introduced to us, we’re first shown her “hardcore” “HATE” tattoo across her knuckles as she takes a drag from her cigarette. She’s your cookie-cutter tough girl with a devil-may-care attitude. That’s her immediate characterization, and she isn’t given much more depth as the film drags on. With such minimal development, it’s hard to figure out what to make of the character. One moment, she’s figuring her way out of a locked cage; then, in the next, she’s making the same mistakes that got a man killed just moments before.
Still, it’s hard to problematize a film like The Pack because that implies I cared about the movie. I certainly didn’t love it, but it seems unfair to say that I hated it. I “nothing-ed” it. It happened and now I’ll never get those 84 minutes back. All I can do is warn people of this wildly-inconsistent and none-too-interesting thriller of a horror movie. If you’re looking for a perfectly bland time, check it out, but if you’re looking for an engaging horror movie, I’d look elsewhere.
Calhoun Kersten was born and raised in Cincinnati. He has lived in Chicago for most of his adult life where he continues to be over-educated and unemployable. He is finishing his masters at DePaul in media and cinema studies with a thesis on the narrative elements of horror franchises.
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