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Ben Austwick [Film Festival 09.01.10] France movie review horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Franck Richard
Writers: Franck Richard
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Ben Austwick
Rating: 7 out of 10

If you're going to make a zombie film nowadays you'd better be original about it, and thankfully The Pack manages this and more in a grim, grimy and bleakly funny movie that keeps the tension running right to the end. That that end is muddy and confused is a bit of a let down, but it's a fun journey all the same.

Charlotte Massot is driving through a wintry, depressing area of northern France when she picks up hitch-hiker Max. A few jokes later they seem to be the perfect match, brought closer together after surviving a nasty bar room brawl in a shabby Western themed café further down the road. When Max goes to the toilet and mysteriously disappears, Charlotte is dragged into a torture porn plot that unveils a dark local conspiracy.

The sleazy cast and their Gallic macho humour are one of The Pack's biggest successes, perhaps best exemplified by elderly, fat local cop Chinasky's dirty, oversized "F**k on the First Date" t-shirt. Despite his creepy image Chinasky turns out to be one of the few trustworthy people around as Charlotte is captured, beaten and fattened up in preparation for a terrible fate. It's here that the zombies come in, different from the usual trudging hordes, supernatural, night time creatures "born of blood and mud", more frightening than their everyday cousins due to their very newness and unpredictability.

Their introduction to the movie is very well handled indeed, the post-industrial setting of slag heaps, pylons and abandoned mine workings partnered with wintry atmospherics and a doomy, discordant score closer in feel to defining survival horror game Resident Evil 4 than a zombie movie. It's unfortunate then that this is where The Pack peaks, descending into a dull take on Romero's zombie siege staple and worse, a baffling finale that just doesn't seem to know where to go at all. It's forgiveable when you remember the effectiveness of what came before though, a creative and unpredictable take on a genre that has become very stale.

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