Notable Cast: Yolande Moreau, Émilie Dequenne, Benjamin Biolay, Philippe Nahon
Review: Another day, another Bloody Disgusting Selects review. Flying in from France comes an eerie earthly tale that mixes folklore and horror as one in Franck Richard’s both bloody and disgusting The Pack. A perfect marriage of film and distribution company I’d say. If there’s one tie binding all BD Select films so far, undoubtably the unique nature of material flows freely through all selections. These aren’t your average run-of-the-mill horror slashers, and all possess a great ambition to do something different. The Pack certainly does not break that trend, giving us these strange eyeless resurrections seen on the poster and a story with fun mythical undertones driving plot lines. Imagine zombies that never died and thirsted for both blood and revenge, and those are the creatures inevitably haunting your nightmares after partaking in a viewing of The Pack. But aside from spooky beings, Richard also channels more bizarre horror elements throwing in torture contraptions and slasher inspired killings for a full package experience. Keep bringing the foreign curveballs Bloody Disgusting. I can only watch Hollywood reboot horror icons with devastating results for so long…
Driving across France, independent Charlotte (Dequenne) is looking to escape life. In her travels, she picks up a safe looking hitchhiker named Max (Biolay). Be it an act of kindness or wanting to start over new, Charlotte picked the wrong time to re-evaluate her persona. While Max is driving, the mystery man pulls into a run down rest stop for a bite to eat. After dealing with some rowdy bikers, Max goes to the washroom and never returns. Charlotte waits as long as she can, but night falls with no sign if Max. Feeling gutsy, Charlotte breaks into the bar and inspects a hidden door uncovered in the washroom, but with terrifying results. The homely female bartender cold clocks her from behind and locks Charlotte in a cage. When she wakes, Max reveals the bartender is her mom and their family hides a gruesome secret. One that may spell the end of young Charlotte if she can’t find a way out her rural hell.
Yummy, nutritious, black sludge. Delicious.
The Pack by no means was created for the mainstream audience, depicted by a 4.7 IMDB rating and a 18% audience rating on RottenTomatoes as of today. But I don’t argue those numbers. Made evident is the realization that my horror preferences mirror those of the minority and not majority, but those who trust in my judgement and agree with my tastes are rarely let down. The Pack exists as a film I could never pass on except to the most forgiving and enthusiastic horror fans, for the same reason so many are cutting down Richard’s exploits. To the regular public, The Pack consists as nothing but another backwoods gorefest with silly unbelievable characters whose own poor decision-making skills lead to what looks like certain demise. Then throw in creatures manifested through blood who can’t be killed and voila, you’ve single-handedly turned off the “this horror is too farfetched” crowd along with the unappreciative horror “fans” who cringe at a film like [insert generic teen hack em' up film]. But I understand these views, and understand that to some, force feeding victims liquid relatable to tar through a home-made contraption is a deal breaker to say the least. So, for non-genre fans or even moderate genre fans, The Pack should be a simple pass.
That said, for the genre fans into something more sinister and different, The Pack can provide a pleasurable viewing experience to at least hold over until the next big horror bombshell. For me, I was drawn in by the more fantasy elements of The Pack, avoiding a story with no purpose. The creatures had a deep mythical background which characterized each blank face, giving meaning to their violent ways and in turn giving the audience an understanding for the heinous acts committed on-screen. Maybe it’s just me, but nothing irks me more in a horror film than the stereotypical killer with zero explained motivation. I’ll even take the super campy or cheesy explanation with no realistic weight over the killer who just kills for sh*ts and giggles (see ATM). Give me something, anything to make sense of. Creatures are a different story because we can’t explain something that doesn’t exist (along the lines of Feast), but because the pack itself had human elements, they weren’t all beast. The resurrections felt more human because of proper set up, and La Spack (Max’s mother) toed the moral line of doing anything for “family” instead of being a fairy tale believing psychopath. To each their own on this topic, but at least you know where I’m coming from now?
Aside from malevolent creatures with an agenda, The Pack brings a steady heaping of gore and action to the table, along with quirky characters providing subsequent entertainment. Were they brilliant performers showcasing A-Grade acting? No, but in most horror the portrayals are more about fun because we know how most characters will end up: dead. Instead of just people you had the badass bikers, a rough punk chick, a pervy yet sweet old lawman, a conflicted son, and an ex-wrestling champ mother. What keeps The Pack just simply at a good horror entry versus a “great” or “fantastic” is the lack of explanation though, ending on somewhat of a ill-informed note in the last few minutes. Not so much confusing, but more clouded. Oh well, the ride was fun enough while it lasted, and for that The Pack deserves some recognition. Yet another film showing us there is a reason taking the scenic route isn’t always the best idea….
Final Rating: 7 reasons to listen to mommy out of 10
Why are people still picking up hitchhikers? Don’t these people watch any horror movies??