Australia has brought us some fantastic forays into horror over the last decade. From the stomach-churning Wolf Creek to the nerve-wracking Babadook, some of the most terrifying tales of the modern era have come from our cousins down under. Unfortunately, The Pack, a new creature feuture from rookie filmmaker Nick Robertson falls painfully far from the eucalyptus tree.
The Pack captures a harrowing 24 hours in the lives of the Wilson family. Mother Carla (Anna Lise Phillips – Backtrack, Devil’s Playground) is the local vet in the small outback community, whilst husband Adam (Jack Campbell – Underbelly, Burning Man) is doing a terrible job of keeping the family farm afloat. Sulky daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) just wants to get out of the boonies, and son Henry (Hamish Phillips) is… erm… also there… After a pack of feral dogs hungrily pick their way through the farm’s livestock, they turn their attention on the family, surrounding the house and scrabbling to break their way in.
The Pack suffers from a number of problems, not least of which is the fact that it is so very painfully dull. For a ninety minute film, it begins so drearily, introducing its listless leads, that the audience find themselves actually rooting for the dogs to come and end it all immediately.
And then the dogs show up.
Of course, there are only so many shots of dogs snarling that can make it into one film, but perhaps a few less might have been better suited for the cutting room floor. The dogs, however, are some of the most unbelievable monsters we’ve seen since Sharktopus. But at least that wasn’t trying to take itself seriously. At one moment, these are the most intelligent canines in the world, battering down doors in veloceraptor-like fervor, whilst the next they seem to be lacking in even the most basic doglike characteristics, unable to even smell a person hiding just inches away. It seems that dog IQ links directly to what the script requires at any one moment.
And then there’s the script.
In a single film, an audience can be expected to take one coincidence with a pinch of salt. Two, you’re starting to push it a little. Any more, however, and you’re just assuming that your viewer is a dimwit. As such, when the electric goes out, the phone stops working, there are no bullets in the house because wifey has taken them to work for no discernible reason, radio signal is out, and not one, but two cars get written off in the same moment, all so that our family are utterly trapped, you’ve just got lazy fucking writing.
All in all, The Pack is little more than a lackluster collection of coincidence and convenience trying its damnedest to measure up to Stephen King’s Cujo, but failing miserably. Peppered with predictable jump scares and the most uninspired score since Justin Beiber tried to soundtrack his own bowel movements, The Pack is one Aussie horror that should be thrown to the wolves.
Dir: Nick Robertson
Scr: Evan Randall Green
Starring: Anna Lise Phillips, Jack Campbell, Katie Moore, Hamish Phillips
Prd: Michael Robertson, Kent Smith
DOP: Benjamin Shirley
Music: Tom Schutzinger
Runtime: 90 mins
The Pack is out now on DVD and Blu-ray