The Pack (2015)

Sit, roll over, play dead

Writer: Evan Randall Green
Director: Nick Robertson

The Pack is an Australian horror movie that might have been pitched as “Home invasion with wild dogs”.

The story follows the Wilson family: Carla (Anna Lise Phillips) and Adam (Jack Campbell) along with their teenage daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) and ten year old son Henry (Hamish Phillips). The family live on a large sheep farm which some very nice aerial photography shows us is surrounded by miles of forest. Adam farms sheep and Carla runs a veterinary practice.

The family is having money problems. Made worse by the fact that their sheep are being slaughtered by wild animals… One night these animals, a pack of aggressive feral dogs, decides to attack the house.

The Pack is a film that lays its cards on the table right from the start. With the checklist of generic characters and several scenes setting up action for later you pretty much know from the beginning where it’s going to go. Sure enough the story plays out by the numbers and although Robertson does try for a few Hitchcockian moments of suspense there are no real surprises.

Key to the success of a film like this is the believability of the animal attacks. These are excellently done using real dogs for much of the time. The film wisely avoids too much detail but keeps things believable by the use of lots of quick cutting – full marks to Gabriella Muir for the editing here. The resulting scenes are violent and unpleasant without resorting to excessive gore.

Although the attacks are believable, the activity of the dogs is perhaps open to question. I’m not a caninologist but I did wonder at their behaviour at times. However I was able to suspend disbelief enough to cover this.

It’s just a shame the story wasn’t better. It all chugs along on autopilot with everything happening as expected, even down to a cheesy ending with a song (which, whilst I liked it, was totally out of character with the rest of the film).

There are moments of genuine tension in The pack, just not many of them. Acting is strong but the characters and story weren’t enough to hold my interest most of the time. The result is a film that is competent but uninspired.