2012’s The Pact turned out the be a pretty successful indie hit for writer-director Nicholas McCarthy. Rather than return for the sequel, he went on to make the AMAZING At The Devil’s Door. The Pact II was instead put in the hands of filmmakers Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath, who together co-directed the fairly well-received Entrance. For the sequel, some of the first film’s actors have returned to continue the story of the Judas Killer, which is effectively expanded upon with some fresh faces. But while it has its (very) creepy moments, The Pact 2 lacks the original’s punch.
(SOME SPOILERS FOR THE ORIGINAL FILM FOLLOW)
Camilla Luddington (True Blood) stars as June Abbott, a woman who scrubs brains off the wall at her day job as a crime scene cleaner. On her off hours, she illustrates and spends nights alone while her cop boyfriend (Scott Michael Foster) works his beat. A couple weeks after the shooting of the Judas Killer (as seen in the first film), June begins having terrifyingly lucid dreams about Judas and her loved ones. Then when a copycat killer surfaces, June’s connection to the original Judas is slowly unraveled.
She eventually seeks out the aid of Annie Barlow (Caity Lotz returns!), who seeks out the aid of her psychic friend Stevie (Haley Hudson returns!). The band’s back together! Of seemingly zero help is an FBI agent played by Patrick Fischler (Mulholland Dr.). I love Fishcler, but his character here is kinda baffling. He’s supposed to be the socially awkward FBI loner, but he comes off more like a stiff dick than anything else. It’s a shame they didn’t develop him any further because Fischler’s range is stifled by the script. He’s unfortunately not given much to do here.
Just like the first film, we follow our protagonists as the try to unlock the mystery of these new murders while also delving into their families’ histories. They piece together clues (a record plays a major role) as June’s visions grow increasingly violent and a little too close to home. Some of the sequel’s most effective scenes are the creep show moments that harken back to the original. A shadow on the wall and the old bathroom mirror trick, for example, are pulled off really, really well. The original’s thick atmosphere of dread and unease is also nicely kept in tack, though a weird glaze over exterior shots gives The Pact II an almost Lifetime movie luster.
Remember in the first Pact, when Judas first crawled out from under the floor? That bit seriously gave me the willies like a real kick to the spine. A lot of moments in the first one had that effect on me. Aside from maybe a handful of scenes (including the two I mentioned), The Pact II ultimately fails to pack that same punch. It feels like Hallam and Horvath really went for it during the climactic twist, but the effect isn’t nearly as strong.