The Pact

Viewed – 02 November 2012  Blu-ray

Supernatural-themed horrors really scare me.  To the point I pretty much avoid them.  So I haven’t seen for example, the Paranormal Activity movies, for fear of them playing on my mind.  For me this shit could happen.  Yet sometimes I am brave enough to give them ago, and so chose this somewhat underrated, but steadily well reviewed entry.

Annie (Caity Lotz) returns home for the funeral of her mother, who inflicted a traumatic childhood on her and her sister years previous.  With much resentment in her heart, she begins to investigate the sudden disappearance of her sister, who was last known to be staying in the house where their mother lived.  Yet there seems a presence in the house, and before long it’s up to Annie to discover what it wants and put it to rest.  Nothing unique here, with plenty of creepy atmosphere, dark corridors, flickering lights, and (interestingly) strange rooms that aren’t meant to be there (!).  Newcomer director Nicholas McCarthy certainly knows how to drive up the chills, and has some well staged shocks that don’t go for the predictable, using technology and foreboding atmosphere well.

The story did keep me gripped and pulled me in, wanting to know the background to certain characters and especially why certain things were happening.  Yet this movie answered little, and despite a good twist towards the end … it only ended up adding to my want of answers.  I don’t like it when things are just how the movie says they are, and doesn’t bother to explain why.

So despite potential, I was left unsatisfied – although generally this was well acted (even if the alarming amount of cleavage & panty shots seemed gratuitous) and was still scary.  I just wish it had delved a little more into the characters.  Oh, and that title is never explained.

Verdict:  3 /5

Starship Troopers

Viewed – 16 January 2009  Blu-ray

Its been so long since I saw this last, and remember it as one of the most gutsy, unashamedly gory and testosterone filled action films of all time.  Director Paul Verhoeven’s brand of gruesome sci-fi mixed with tongue-in-cheek social commentary has always appealed to me, and his skills have elevated otherwise b-movie hokum like Robocop and Total Recall to something all together more interesting.

Pretty-boy actor Casper Van Dien plays rookie marine Johnny Rico who signs up to battle an invasion of insect-like aliens threatening humanity as we know it.  The story is basic sci-fi nonsense but this also plays out like a teen movie rights of passage with a group of friends pushed to their limits by their experiences.  The cast is all Hollywood beauty (including the undeniably stunning Denise Richards and the more thinking mans crumpet Dina Meyer) and don’t really add any acting or emotional depth to the movie, but are still enjoyable to watch.  What makes this movie stand out above similar fair is the aforementioned sly winks to government, fascism & political correctness etc that the director is obviously making fun of, and the wealth of stunning special effects on display – oh and the bucket-loads of dismembered body parts and lashing of the red stuff.  Imagine Star Wars or Star Trek with an R-rating (or 18 certificate) and I think you get the picture.

Twelve years on this film still stands up visually.  Presented on Blu-Ray the picture is very clean and eye-catching if a little inconsistent in the fine details.  Sound-wise we are treated to a beefy uncompressed Dolby Digital soundtrack as well as the standard compressed version, and some nice menus and behind the scenes features make for a good package.  The absence though of Paul Verhoeven’s always enjoyable commentary is a glaring over site, considering it exists on the DVD version.

Verdict:  4 /5