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The Pact’s writer-director Nicholas McCarthy moves to executive producer for this second installment, which reveals itself to be more spinoff than sequel, loosely linked by the brief appearance of Caity Lotz, who starred in the first film. Perfunctorily produced in a manner that barely advances the underlying narrative, the feature’s current release on VOD won’t do much to boost theatrical ticket sales.
Although the original played as a modest haunted-house chiller, The Pact 2 shifts more into serial killer territory, although plenty of supernatural elements persist to plague June Abbott (Camilla Luddington), a freelance crime-scene cleaner and aspiring illustrator. Following an assignment mopping up after the horrific murder of erotic model Ellie Ford (Suziey Block), June begins to experience terrifying waking visions of the crime, but hides her unease from her boyfriend Daniel (Scott Michael Foster), a straight-arrow police officer.
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FBI agent Ballard (Patrick Fischler), who’s recently wrapped up the case of the prolific “Judas Killer,” reveals that June’s mother was one of his original victims and now Ballard believes that the copycat murderer who decapitated Ford is targeting June. As her terrifying visions of Ford’s death intensify, strange noises and ghostly late-night visitations indicate that June’s LA home may be infested with an evil presence. The reappearance of Annie Barlow (Lotz), the young woman who previously dispatched the Judas Killer in self-defense, contributes to June’s growing suspicion that Ballard’s theory may actually be correct, as she senses a threatening presence closing in on her that neither the FBI agent nor Daniel can protect her from.
Connecting the two films with the premise that the malevolent spirit of the Judas Killer is now inspiring and informing the murder spree of his imitator represents a fairly weak link that grows even more tentative as the action progresses. Co-scripters and directors Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath never seem quite sure which horror subgenre the film should favor, as the supernatural elements demonstrate little synergy with the serial-killer procedural plotting.
While the filmmakers adequately manage the production’s undemanding technical requirements, the constantly shifting tone emerges as an insurmountable contradiction. Saddled with this stylistic inconsistency, the castmembers fail to distinguish themselves in almost any regard. Luddington sulks her way through most of the movie, rarely demonstrating a level of terror equal to the horrors thrust upon her.
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Although Lotz’s arrival midway through initially raises the interest level somewhat, she doesn’t stick around long enough to maintain it, while both Foster’s and Fischler’s plodding performances only create more drag on the increasingly conflicted plot. The film’s lower-budget production styling doesn’t compare well with the quality of similar recent releases, leaving the distinct impression of counterproductive cost-cutting.
Opens: Oct. 10 (IFC Midnight)
Production company: Preferred Film & TV
Cast: Camilla Luddington, Patrick Fischler, Caity Lotz, Scott Michael Foster, Mark Steger, Amy Pietz, Suziey Block, Nicki Micheaux, Haley Hudson
Directors-writers: Dallas Hallam, Patrick Horvath
Producer: Ross M. Dinerstein
Executive producers: Jamie Carmichael, Nicholas McCarthy
Director of photography: Carmen Cabana
Production designer: Helen Harwell
Costume designer: Molly Grundman
Editor: Saul Herckis
Music: Carl Sondrol
Casting: Elisha Gruer, Michelle Levy
No rating, 95 minutes
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