Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THE PACK (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

THE PACK (2015)

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight

Release Date: July 5th 2016 
Region Code: A
Duration: 88 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Cast: Anna Lise Phillips, Hamish Phillips, Jack Campbell, Katie Moore, Nick Robertson 
Director: Nick Robertson 

Synopsis: Man's best friend becomes his worst nightmare when a horde of bloodthirsty wild dogs descends upon a family's farmhouse. In a remote stretch of the Australian Outback, a sheep rancher (Jack Campbell), his veterinarian wife (Anna Lise Phillips), and their two teenage children live in bucolic isolation — until a horrifying night when a pack of fang-baring, four-legged, rabid beasts besiege their home. With no one around to help them, the family must band together to survive — or else become canine kibble. Generating a steadily mounting sense of dread, The Pack cleverly toys with genre conventions before it goes in for the kill.

Don't confuse this Australian import with the American "killer dog" movie The Pack (1977) but I can see why you might as both share a name and basic premise, but this Aussie movie is a tense sort of slow-burn killer canine entry that takes place on a rural sheep farm in the Aussie outback. Dad (Jack Campbell) and mum (Anna Lise Phillips) have fallen on hard financial times, the farm is bleeding money as the livestock continue to be eviscerated by a pack of wild dogs in the area. The bank is nipping at their heel with the threat of foreclosure and the pressures are mounting, especially when a banker shows up at their doorstep informing them they are out of options. The sad news brings joy to their rebellious daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) who cannot stomach living in such a rural area far away from friends and modern conveniences, but their young son Henry (Hamish Phillips) loves it there and is saddened by the prospect of losing the family home. After delivering the news the banker pulls his car off to the side of the road for a piss and is promptly eviscerated by a pack of bloodthirsty canines on the edge of the woods, it is a nice moment of someone you hate getting a proper and painful death. 

As night descends on the farm the pack of black-furred terrors depart the edges of the forest and descend upon the farmhouse under the cover of darkness, what ensues is a keenly tense and atmospheric 'when animals attack' scenario that skillfully plays as both a killer canine and an action-packed siege movie. The black furred feral dogs are at first only glimpsed in shadow and quick flashes, eventually they make their presence known and mom and dad must defend their children from this feral menace, both Campbell and Phillips bring a load of parental instinct to the roles as parents who will risk anything to protect their children. 

The animals prove to be both cunning and ferocious, when the mom calls for help from the local authorities they show up and become fast prey for the fast moving canines who pick them off like sharks who smell blood in the water. Eventually the dogs gain access to the farmhouse and stalk the family from room to room with some nice cat and mouse moments. Of course this is a farm and there is a rifle in the house but ammo proves to be in short supply, and the long range weapon doesn't make for the best close quarters defense leaving our protagonist to use themselves as live bait to lure the vicious dogs out into the open. 

The movie has a small cast of good actors, the premise is simple and the atmosphere and action are well-played, but there is a low bodycount which might scare away those looking for something more gory, but the movie is suspenseful and had some nice moments of visceral action, which more than makes up for any lack of bodycount.  

Special Features: 

- The Making Of The Pack Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer

This is a tense, slow-burn killer dog movie with some nice visceral action and atmospheric dread, it also packs in some attractive cinematography that takes a few moments to soak in the gorgeous Australian scenery. If you had a good time with the killer bear movie Backcountry I think you will find a lot to enjoy with The Pack. Like most good killer canine flicks this one makes you think a bit about the "what ifs" of living in close proximity to man's best friend, after all we are only an stom
achs away from being a tasty tidbit.