The Pack

ON

A Frightfest UK review

Hippie-hipster Charlotte (Emilie Dequenne) is driving through rural France, going as far as her CD collection will take her, when a run in with a pack of bikers persuades her to pick up hitch-hiker, Max (Benjamin Biolay).

Driving to a secluded truck stop/ diner named after the owner La Spack (Yolande Moreau), the group of bikers catch up with and abuse the pair until driven away by La Spack. But when Max goes to the toilet and doesn’t return Charlotte is soon drawn into a weird world of monsters and the monstrous with only retired sheriff Chinaski (Philippe Nahon) around to help.

Kicking off Sunday morning at Frightfest, this debut film is incredibly continental. Until the action really gets started halfway through, if there is a scene without either a cigarette or a drink it’s because there’s a cigarette AND a drink.

A Gallic malaise permeates the pores of every aspect in this film. Subdued earthy and wintry colours seep through the camera and ooze down the screen, the urge to explain the story is stifled in favour of making the viewer as much a passenger as the characters and even the villains of The Pack hardly seem to recognise themselves as doing anything wrong.

“Je suis un tueur? Non! … Oui?! *Shrug* D’accord. Au revoir.”

This of course is not always a good thing for the film. The sudden changes in character could be explained away by a bit of light racism and suggesting the French will always give up without a fight; but that would only be shining an accurate light on the character of Max, as Charlotte’s tenacity never has her give up or even play a desolate victim.

It’s also worth talking about La Spack, a great character, played superbly by Moreau. If this does grow into a franchise then a prequel heavily featuring her would be welcomed.

The lack of time elaborating on the machinations of The Pack are unfortunately detrimental to viewers happily trying to follow along, but this seems to be more by design as I don’t think director Richard had a satisfactory explanation of why things were happening anyway.

That said, it’s not impossible to bring ones own ideas to the movie and fill in the blanks and trying to birth a new monster into horror cannon is never easy. While it wouldn’t spoil much to tell you more about these monsters (or at least what they are) the slow suspense of the first half would lose some of it’s impact as the reveal is one of the only pay-offs in the film.

The Pack is far from the worst French film I’ve ever seen, despite the lack of a decent resolution, and is a decent enough horror that should keep you entertained. If Franck Richard can keep producing original ideas I don’t doubt it will belong before he hits upon a modern classic.