‘The Pack’ is a bloody horror movie featuring hungry, hungry ghouls

Courtesy of Indomina

There’s so much mystery and inviting darkness in The Pack, the new French film from Franck Richard, that horror fans will likely be impressed. The atmosphere of this sordid tale is the movie’s strongest suit. When watching Charlotte (Émilie Dequenne) descend into the debauchery of a strange, strange farm in northern France, there’s a real sense of dread in the air. The blood and guts that spew in the film make one want to turn away, but the skill behind the cinematography and acting causes us to stick with The Pack until its unusual ending.

Charlotte is a lost soul when we first meet her on the road. She has a map splayed out on the dashboard of her beat-up car, and the horizon is her goal. She obviously needs to get away from something (perhaps everything). The girl is determined, but also welcoming. She picks up a mysterious hitchhiker (Benjamine Biolay), a man she is instantly attracted to and one that seems like good company. Together, they stop at a run-down diner along an old country road, and then things become very weird.

The locals are a strange bunch, especially the proprietor of the diner (Yolande Moreau). Before Charlotte is able to escape, her hitchhiker friend is kidnapped and the blood begins to flow. When the flesh-eating ghouls (they act like zombies) emerge from the scorched earth surrounding the diner, the audience knows they’re not in Kansas anymore.

The plot is essentially plot-less. The Pack follows the same formula as countless other horror films. Innocent girl takes a break from the road and runs into the evil locals. What sets Richard’s film apart from the rest is that dark atmosphere. There’s no sense of sunlight, warmth or comfort in the film. The entire 84-minute duration is dark, scary and foreboding. This makes for an intense thriller that can be difficult to watch at times.

Dequenne turns in a finely layered performance. She’s not just another scream queen headed toward certain death. Charlotte has a head on her shoulders, but her hard exterior is also prone to cracking. Moreau is devilish in the film’s flashiest role, while Biolay is more understated and understanding.

When the final credits roll, The Pack doesn’t add up to much. The film leaves a lot of questions on the table and its short running time doesn’t give the audience a chance to care beyond the thrills. There’s also a couple of scenes that feel unnecessarily gratuitous, but I suppose this is modern-day horror and most directors simply can’t hold back.

The movie, which was recently released on DVD through Indomina and Blood Disgusting Selects, will not win over everyone, but for genre fans, there’s enough to appreciate in this strangely interesting tale to keep watching. Whatever you do, don’t look down, because there may be a fanged creature emerging from the dirt.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • The Pack

  • In French with English subtitles

  • 2010

  • Written and directed by Franck Richard

  • Starring Émilie Dequenne, Benjamine Biolay and Yolande Moreau

  • Running time: 84 minutes

  • Rated R for bloody horror violence and language, including sexual references

  • Rating: ★★½☆

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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