Another low rent, low quality horror film meant to profit off of bored Netflix subscribers.
The Pact 2
At the end of Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact, Annie (Caity Lotz) killed the Judas Killer, her crazed uncle responsible for the decapitation of several women over several decades. Annie was ready to move on, but Evil (or, more accurately, film studio economic interest) wasn’t done with her. McCarthy bailed on making a sequel, leaving Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath to take over writing and directing duties. Hallam and Horvath aren’t a bad choice; their first film Entrance is a bit of a misfire, but its stubborn dedication to low-key horror made it an admirable failure. That restrained form of filmmaking falls in line with the slow burn quality of McCarthy’s film, except Hallam and Horvath fail to replicate anything close to what made its predecessor effective.
Lotz, doing her best take on Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, doesn’t show up until the halfway mark. The main character this time around is June (Camilla Luddington), a crime scene cleaner, and her police officer boyfriend Daniel (Scott Michael Foster, seen mostly entering or leaving their house). Daniel works on a homicide matching the Judas Killer’s MO, while June suffers from nightmares looking awfully similar to the crime scene. It isn’t until FBI profiler Ballard (Patrick Fischler, unsure whether to ham it up or go method) explains what’s going on that the pieces begin falling into place. June’s biological mother was one of Judas’ victims, making June fearful that the killer’s spirit has latched on to her. June begins experiencing hauntings, and as her nightmares grow in intensity more bodies pile up.
The film’s first half is loosely connected to The Pact, making this story feel retrofitted into a clear attempt at building a VOD franchise. Swap the Judas Killer with any other made up serial psychopath, and no one would notice. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if the storyline had any vitality in it. The murky, ugly cinematography goes well with the film’s plodding narrative, setting up a boring mystery none of the characters look particularly interested in solving. For a brief moment it looks like Hallam and Horvath introduce the idea of June committing these murders in her sleep, but that possibility slowly fades away, acting like a half-assed red herring. It’s lazy writing, giving off the impression that Hallam and Horvath have no clue what they’re trying to do. McCarthy’s script for The Pact, while full of its own issues, looks masterful next to this messy attempt at a sequel.
Once Annie comes back into the picture, The Pact 2 shows a brief flicker of life, the kind of fun familiarity from seeing old characters pop up again. That flicker vanishes once it’s apparent that Hallam and Horvath just want to remake The Pact in 45 minutes. The exact same story beats and plot twists as the first film happen here, only this time applied to June instead of Annie. And by lazily slapping a newer, weaker coat of paint over the old one, The Pact 2 devolves into complete nonsense by its climax, throwing in plot twists just for the sake of it. It’s bad enough that Hallam and Horvath can’t do a good job with their own original story in the sequel; even when directly copying the first film, they still screw it up.
Scares are mostly absent here. Carl Sondrol’s score throws screeching strings and booming percussion over scenes in an attempt to freak viewers out. The score actually hurts the effectiveness of the horror, especially during one sequence involving a shadow. If anything the music signals overcompensation on the filmmakers’ part, that they aren’t confident enough in their abilities to unnerve. That lack of confidence runs throughout The Pact 2. McCarthy’s film certainly showed confidence through its direction; the same can’t be said for Hallam and Horvath. The Pact 2 is an amateur, stale follow-up, an attempt to start another low rent, low quality series of horror films to profit from bored Netflix subscribers. The film’s ending, a warning from one character that “it’s starting again,” all but confirms a third Pact will be on its way if The Pact 2 proves successful enough. That thought alone is scarier than anything in this film.