International Weirdness : “The Pack”

Posted: July 10, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The-Pack-Movie-Poster

Late last night my seemingly endless quest to find you, dear reader, the at-least-occasional undiscovered gem among current Netflix horror offerings brought me to a mostly-unassuming, quite-obviously-low-budget Australian indie number from 2015 entitled The Pack (which I’m guessing is probably also available on Blu-ray and DVD if you must go that route), the brainchild of director Nick Robertson and his screenwriter, one Evan Randall Green, that marks yet another entry in the “nature’s fury unleashed, subgenre : wild dogs” category that we see from time to time and that, let’s be brutally honest, probably has nothing especially new, per se, to offer audiences. But hey — that doesn’t mean that it can’t tread its patch of well-worn ground reasonably effectively, does it?

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The premise here is about as basic as you’d expect : struggling family farmer Adam Wilson (played with requisite stoicism by Jack Campbell) and his supportive-perhaps-to-a-fault wife, Carla (Anna Lise Phillips) are barely keeping the bankers at bay as they strive in quite probable vain to preserve their rural Aussie dream for themselves and their two children, semi-rebellious teen Sophie (Katie Moore) and animal lover/part-time kleptomaniac Henry (Hamish Phillips — no relation, I’m assuming, to the actress who plays his mother), when one night, out of the blue, a decidedly more immediate threat descends upon their mortgaged-to-the-hilt farmhouse in the form of a pack of vicious, bloodthirsty canines. Some people, it would seem, can just never catch a break.

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I’m not sure how great a threat “dogs gone wild” pose to isolated rural residents in this day and age, but I imagine the prospect must be a fairly frightening one no matter how statistically small, and Robertson does a pretty decent job of amping up the tension throughout here as his hapless protagonists hunker down into deep “survival mode” for the night. These mutts have a taste for flesh that obstacles like doors and windows and walls can’t seem to muster anything greater than temporarily inconvenient barriers to, and the small cast all acquit themselves reasonably well when it comes to the task of selling us on the notion that they’re well and truly pretty damn frightened out of their wits. There’s nothing like a “standout performance” on offer here from any of them, but they’re all uniformly believable, as are their quite-expertly-trained four-legged counterparts. You might never actually be scared of anything going on here yourself, but you’ll get the feeling that they are, and that’s enough to keep the average horror aficionado entertained for an hour and a half.

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Still, if you’re getting the feeling that there’s no particularly compelling reason to move this to the top of your “must-see” list, that’s undoubtedly true, as well. Waiting out the siege and trying to stay alive may have made for especially gripping drama back when movies were a relatively new addition to the cultural landscape, but competent execution, even when it’s from all parties involved, can only take things so far with something this firmly entrenched in “been there, done that” territory. Nobody here has any reason not to be proud of the work they’ve done by any stretch of the imagination, but even the most meticulously-prepared McDonald’s Big Mac is still just a McDonald’s Big Mac and, like that unfortunately venerable staple of the Western diet (which actually sounds kinda good right about now, it pains me to admit), The Pack is both generally inoffensive to the palette and depressingly familiar. There’s no reason not to like it, but no reason to remember it after it’s been digested, either.

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Victor De Leon says:

    Just watched this last night. You hit the nail on the head and made very interesting comparisons. Not great, with no real reason to dislike it, but an experience I wouldn’t repeat. Good review, man.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Thanks, my friend — yeah, there’s really nothing wrong with this flick at all, and yet it doesn’t really need to exist.

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