Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact is one of those horror films that tends to divide audiences: either you think it’s an over-stretched, needlessly complicated snooze-fest with a few decent jump scares and one or two committed performances (step forward Caity Lotz and Haley Hudson), or a quietly effective little horror whose reach, if we’re honest, exceeded its grasp. Either way, it has no shortage of ideas (arguably a few too many), and certainly enough of a backstory (and box office) to warrant a sequel. But with McCarthy off writing and directing At the Devil’s Door (aka Home), a new writer-director was called for, and who better than Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath, the filmmakers behind the very Pact-like 2012 chiller Entrance?Well, based on the evidence of The Pact II, the answer to the “who better” question would seem to be “anybody”.
The Pact II (The Pact 2 on the poster) introduces a new character, June Abbott (Grey’s Anatomy‘s Camilla Luddington), whose chosen career in “trauma scene cleanup” leads her and her police officer boyfriend (Halt and Catch Fire‘s Scott Michael Foster) to cross paths with an FBI agent (TV staple Patrick Fischler, who most memorably portrayed Jimmy Barrett in Mad Men), who is investigating what appears to be the victim of a copycat killer whose modus operandi resembles that of the first film’s ‘Judas Killer’. For no adequately explained reason, June is considered both a potential victim and a suspect in the copycat killings, roles which, however unlikely, lead her to the door of the first film’s protagonist Annie, who is as reluctant to get herself involved in the case as Caity Lotz appears to be in reprising the role (she doesn’t turn up until half way through, and then only for a couple of scenes.) The spirit of the deceased ‘Judas Killer’ seems somehow to be responsible for the latest killings, while Hallam and Horvath invoke the spirit of Nicholas McCarthy (from whose short film the original was expanded) without giving us much that’s new or interesting. It’s reductive, repetitive, faintly ridiculous and as redundant as sequels get, and the feeble attempt to turn the uninteresting and nonsensical Judas Killer into a horror movie monster worthy of future sequels is spectacularly misjudged.
On this evidence, the producers should have Pact it in after the first one.