Australians make nifty horror films.
I still have nightmares about Razorback, with Gregory Harrison battling a man-eating killer hog. Now there’s The Pack, an equally edgy and unnerving thriller from Down Under about a lethal litter of wild dogs with a thirst for human blood terrorizing settlers in a remote farm community in South Australia that will rattle our nerves. Goosebumps are guaranteed.
Focus is on the Wilson family—sheep ranchers who begin mysteriously losing so much livestock to inexplicable carnage that their property is in jeopardy of mortgage foreclosure. Father Adam (Jack Campbell) is a brawny, hardworking breadwinner who determines to get to the bottom of the problem and save the farm. Mother Carla (Anna-Lise Phillips) pitches in to turn a profit by running a veterinary clinic and animal boarding facility. Their 10-year-old son Henry (Hamish Phillips) does what he can to help, but rebellious teenage daughter Sophie (Katie Moore) prays for any disaster that will force them out of the wilderness and back to civilization. They all find out how much they need each other when darkness falls and the meadows already littered
with the corpses of livestock turn into killing fields for bigger prey.
Wild dogs actually roam the world, we are told. They hunt in packs. One of these packs has found its way to the woods that surround the Wilson farm. First, their victims are anyone who enters the property—a man from the bank who drops by on business, a cop who arrives to investigate, a pair of elderly neighbors. But once the snarling mastiffs break the windows and gain access to the farmhouse, all hell breaks loose. The maulings are grimly realistic, but the hair really stands at attention on the back of your neck when the drooling, bloodthirsty dogs find their way in through cellars and drain pipes, leaving the Wilsons to run out of electricity, cell phone batteries and extra bullets. The second half of the movie shows the ways the badly injured but fearless alpha male father, the clever, animal-savvy mother and the two terrified children battle nature to survive, with no means of escape or self-defense from snarling fangs. Written with maximum suspense by Evan Randall Green and directed by Nick Robertson with an economical tension that does not depend on computerized special effects, it’s an effective thriller that sets out to scare the living daylights out of even the most skeptical viewer and delivers in spades. After you see The Pack, you might want to reward your own mutt by picking up some extra doggie treats on the way home.