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THE PACK
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Reviewed by: Zombie Boy

Directed by: Franck Richard

Starring:
Yolande Moreau
Émilie Dequenne
Benjamin Biolay

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A young French punk rocker forgets about not picking up hitchers and finds herself on the wrong end of a group of blood-drinking monsters.
Is it good movie?
In Charlotte’s defense, she only picked up the hitcher because there was a trio of motorcycle hoodlums harassing her. She stopped to pick up Max to let them pass, and the two struck up an unlikely friendship, as much as the recalcitrant Max and the abrasive Charlotte can be friendly. Charlotte’s sarcastic armor shows its first chink when Max goes into the bathroom of a diner they stopped at, but never comes out. She laments that she finally found a guy who isn’t a jerk, and he disappears on her. She laments it so much that she waits until the diner closes, then breaks in to get some clues. Big mistake.

I don’t want too give much away, but suffice to say that Charlotte ends up in a cage, being prepped to become food for a weird pack of humanoid monsters that rise from the earth during the waxing of the moon. The reasons for this are ephemeral: there is a crazy mother who lost all but one son, and made real a local legend about the Earth wanting blood. But then again, a lot of the plot points are ephemeral, especially the maddeningly open, unexplained ending.

Franck Richard does a really good job with his debut film. It’s shot well, has good performances from the actors, the make-up effects and gore are all well-done, and it’s got a nice, slow build, and the plot elements, gossamer as they are, are given to you in pieces as opposed to with a bunch of expositive twaddle. My only real complaint, other than not fully understanding the ending, are the A-Team/Evil Dead-looking “tooling up” sequences. Maybe they were meant to be homage but they don’t fit with the gritty, spare feel to the rest of the film.

Either way, a small quibble. I’d say give this one a go when it makes its way to North America.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Moonlit night plays a big part in this film, and the DP was successful in keeping those scenes from being murky.

Audio: There is a French 5.1 Dolby Digital track, while the English is plain old stereo. And of course there are optional English subtitles.
The Extras
The Making of The Pack: This is essentially an EPK: a 9-minute promo piece consisting mainly of interviews with the cast and director, and some behind the scenes footage, both interwoven with finished product. It’s fluffy, but entertaining.

Featurettes: There are three featurettes here: Performing the Stunts, Creating the Set, and Setting Up the Joke. They’re all four-minutes long, and the first two are pretty much exactly what you think they are. The Joke one, however, is the interesting piece. The title refers to a long and involved joke that Charlotte tells Max, while some strange shenanigans happen outside their window, unbeknownst to them (but knownst to us). It tickles me that such a seemingly simple scene was one of the more difficult ones to get right on set.
Last Call
A good debut from a first-time writer/director, The Pack is a well-paced, gritty horror film about blood-drinking monsters and the girl who does not love them. It has some nice twists and turns, good gore, and well-nuanced acting. The plot is sometimes obfuscated, and the ending sort of a pain in the ass, but as a complete package I would recommend giving this one a watch.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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