Dogs have long been called man’s best friend, but we still seem fascinated by stories either in the news or on the screen of them turning and biting the hand that feeds them. Be it Cujo or “the dingos ate my baby” case from Australia when man’s best friend becomes his worst enemy people become interested.
The Pack is from Australia, home of the baby eating dingos however these are are huge black forest dwelling canines, more akin to wolves in look and temperament than the usual outback scavenger. After killing his neighbors and a man from the bank there to discuss how far struggling farmer Adam Wilson has fallen behind on his mortgage they lay siege to Wilson’s farmhouse. He has to fight to ensure he and his family will survive the night. Who will survive and what will they have to wipe off of their shoes?
To be fair, The Pack isn’t really a bad film, it’s just not a really good one either. First time director Nick Robertson keeps the hounds hidden for the first half hour or so, trying to create an air of mystery as to what’s going on. It might well have worked too if IFC Midnight’s publicity for the film hadn’t made it very clear it was about killer dogs. The dogs themselves while certainly big and dangerous looking also look entirely to well fed and groomed to pass for feral beasts. There’s also no explanation of where they came from or why they suddenly started attacking livestock and humans.
The attacks themselves are bloody, vicious and well shot. Instead of CGI they used real dogs and the difference is very noticeable. The effects also avoid CGI and the resulting carnage is so much more effective for it. The banker’s death is especially savage and nasty with several shots of the dogs tearing chunks out of him. Unfortunately there’s not nearly enough of this, this film is much more interested in suspense than carnage, which is a shame as it tends to fall flat in that department.
The script from Evan Randall Green is fairly obvious and predictable, which means the suspense it wants to create is pretty much nonexistent. It’s obvious how it’s all going to play out and while there are a few twists in how it does, the ending is never really in doubt. There’s also a number of huge plot holes, like why don’t they shout a warning to the police instead of just watch them become dog chow, or how come the dog’s sense of smell seems to fail at critical moments. It all feels very contrived at times and the film suffers for it.
In the end The Pack is an ok watch if it turns up on NetFlix or Hulu but it’s really nothing special. With a bit more canine mayhem and/or a script rewrite it could have been a winner, instead I’d suggest 1977’s film of the same name, from Robert Clouse, (who also gave up Enter the Dragon and The Ultimate Warrior) if you want to see man’s best friend show it’s darker side.