First-time director Nick Robertson teams with screenwriter Evan Randall Green (A Night of Horror Volume 1(2015)) introduce an ominous tale of wild dogs running free, returning to their wolf pack mentality and killing for sport rather than food. Australian horror cinema usually falls into the ozploitation category, or at least a movie with a more deadly species on the rugged continent, than just dogs, and not many of them, maybe five, a weak entry into the horror genre. It reminded this reviewer of the killer dingo drama movie with Meryl Streep called A Cry in the Dark (1988) based off a real story of Lindy Chamberlain, and how the dingos (not dogs) killed her baby. Nevertheless, these doggies enjoy killing sheep for the opening sequence of the movie and nothing, adding that the film intends to scare the younger audience of pre-teens and or those with cynophobia.
The Wilson family financially strapped, under duress and tension filled household struggles to make a living on a very remote Australian sheep farm, and adding insult to injury their flock keeps dying off due to animal attacks. Headed by father knows all and best Adam (Jack Campbell), a man who would rather eat a bark then converse with anyone who disagrees with him, or his actions, his wife Carla (Anna Lise Phillips) has set up a veterinary clinic in an attempt to fend off the bank, but the remoteness of location prevents any true financial success. As for the children two, an eighteen year selfish and bratty Sophie (Katie Moore) with a woe is me mentality and then the carefree son, Henry (Hamish Phillips), who strangely collects bullets and hides in a weirdly designed sheep shoot as his sanctuary to play with his boy toys. Then enters a sleazy banker seeking to evict the family with a buyout plan, but the entire scene never really proceeds anywhere, a muddled mess, it serves as a reminder of the steadfast mannerism of Adam and to transport the film to the next scene. The banker as everyone already knows, without reading it or viewing the movie becomes a doggy snack after making a pit stop on the way back to civilization, from here the mutts decide human is better than sheep. Strangely enough, the pack makes way to Wilson’s farmhouse located in the center of the property. It does take a lengthy portion of the movie to set everything into motion, and have the pooches swarm carefully to attack the household, the gunfire against scares them temporary, meaning either they encounter sound beforehand or perhaps they’re rabid. The breadwinner father finds himself trapped outside and Carla gives a stunning performance of a proud mama defending her babies, in a crawl around in the darkness with a butcher knife trap and kills the patrolling dog in the house. Herein screenwriter Green forgets a key element in his job description write what you know, and research the rest, regarding the unnatural senses the dog in the house never uses to find its prey. While dog breeds vary and the abilities they share three things with humans, smell, sight, hearing and then a bonus one for the dogs only, can feel energy (i.e. emotions), such as panic, fear, however, this dog seems very immune to those abilities. Actually, very little happens in the house and starts to become exciting out on the grounds at night, aside from Adam, the rest of the character struggles for equal footing, Carla strives forward, but cautiously it lingers on dullness. Although, using her veterinarian experience she theorizes the dogs might be aggressive through inbreeding though nothing suggests any of it, no examination, or autopsy, just a random thought. Thanks! As the family finds itself split up and Henry recovering all the bullets he stole, for his father to practicing his shooting skills on the dogs, at an alarming well efficient pace. The savage intensity of the beasts versus man never equally measure of to a worthwhile terrorizing tension for the viewers, simply a run of the mill home-invasion flick. In fact, by the conclusion of the movie, the family hugs in the front yard and their cute dog comes out of hiding with the tail wagging, seeking attention. Never does the family dog defend his family, assisting the master, protecting the children, none of it occurs. What the film needed was another key individual another farmer, tracking the terror, showing the path of killing to leading to the Wilson farm hence suspense, or a maniac raising them as torture device and unleashing them.
Australia presents with wonderful scenery, some of it shown in the film, providing an understanding the vastness of the territories, and the remoteness of the Wilson’s farm, but with all the uniqueness available limited the viciousness of the attacks to dogs, lacks the true terror of dangerous and deadly species inhabiting the area. Even if the writer wasn’t from the region the quickest search on the internet informs one of the extremely threatening critters, animals and insects, Bird Eating Tarantula, The Cassowary bird, venomous snakes, jellyfish, spiders and ticks, sharks, crocodiles, and then dingoes, a buffet of death. It just depends on the locations available and the let the animal kingdom attack and main the human race and speaking of that, the body count, less than four, that doesn’t do well for a horror movie.
Robertson clearly showed and understanding for production, and made show all the “I” got dotted and the “T” cross, but it lacks substance, the images present nicely, but a horror movie needs more that niceties, it requires terror suspense and some blood shedding. The actors fulfilled their duties and roles, but none of that develops beyond the scope of their roles, never having the audience to care or strive for them to succeed in survival. As for the few dog attacks on human, distant shots, nothing truly up close, and that means likely well trained animal control and not access or thought of digital effects.
Simply stated The Pack doesn’t have the teeth for the genre, no insensitive to carry out proper killing so many attempts and few kills, and viewers need emotions to want them to care about the victims. Herein no caring, it all misses the mark completely, early on the plight of existence for the family, had us caring by the end, wanted the black screen of credits to roll.