Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Pack" (2015) d/ Nick Robertson

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Things always seem more extreme in Australia, don't they? Take this recent "Animals Gone Amok" entry from the land down under, for example, not to be confused as a sequel or remake to the 1977 film of the same name, gods be praised. After all, that one featured performances by Joe Don Baker and R.G. Armstrong among its cast, so any comparison between the two is liable to leave the newer release in the older film's dust.

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"How many dogs have bit, have bit the hand of the man that feeds them? ", ponders Adam (Jack Campbell).
The Wilsons, as led by stubborn patriarch, Adam (Jack Campbell), are a family struggling to make it on a farm they can no longer afford.  Mother Carla (Anna Lise Phillips) has taken to moonlighting with veterinary work, to little avail. Their youngest, Henry (Hamish Phillips) , enjoys wasting lazy, Lassie-esque days frolicking in the sun with the family pooch, and hiding bullets in a crawl through maze attached to the house. Their oldest, Sophie (Katie Moore), hates the isolation of their current digs, preferring yapping away for hours on end on the telephone with cute boys. To compound matters, something feral and bloodthirsty has been leaving a gruesome trail of mutilated livestock across the property, despite Adam's best efforts to preserve his dwindling sheep with steel traps.

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I hope Shari Lewis is okay, because Lambchop has seen better days.
After showing up with threats of property foreclosure, the bank manager stops roadside for a piss, blanketed by the forest's dense treeline, which camoflage the pack of attacking canines, that promptly tear him asunder. Back at the farm, the Wilsons have unwittingly found themselves on the wild dogs' ever expanding dinner menu, and it's soon obvious that the family will be forced to pool every last ruthless resource just to survive until morning unscathed, as the bellicose breed even takes down a policeman responding to their distress call. Can Adam tie off his growing list of dog bite wounds and protect his family from the pillaging pooches? Is Carla a resurrected gang member, judging by the ease with which she wields that carving knife? Will Henry retrieve the hidden bullets from the maze without being transformed into dog yummies? Will Sophie ever get off the phone? Find out these answers and more when you see this one for yourselves...

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So messed up, I want you here. And in my room, I want you here.
What this particular doggie in the window has going for it is some lovely cinematography, with ample towering crane shots, some relatively brutal gore, and tension and atmosphere in spades, despite some originating from the time tested old jump scare.  The dogs are appropriately menacing, even if some of the human cast fails to pull its own weight while trudging through an improbable script. Bottom line, I was entertained, and moreso than if I had spent the same ninety minutes surfing funny dog videos on YouTube, which, for the record, I try to never do. On the scale, Pack earns a pair of Wops, and would serve you well as a middle movie in a mangy mutt marathon. Worth a look.

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" It's Muttley and Dastardly from now on, see?!!?"
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