The Pact in Dark Space

The Pact and Dark Space are currently available on instant Netflix.

The Pact

 

The Pact (2012) – Rated R

Feeling obligated to return home for the funeral of the mother she despised, Annie soon senses an evil presence in her childhood home.

Another month, another direct-to-DVD genre offering with Casper van Dien to give it a little bit of name recognition. That was what I thought when I started this one. I was very happy to be pleasantly surprised.

Casper van Dien actually puts in a real performance here and does not appear to be just showing up for the paycheck. Having said that, his part is not very large. The film has to be carried by its singular star, Caity Lotz.

Caity Lotz plays Annie. Since appearing here, she has found some fame as Sara Lance aka Black Canary on Arrow. She does a nice job conveying sorrow, horror, fear, and confusion.

Director Nicholas McCarthy adapts his own script here and it is quite a doozy. It starts off very quickly, no slow build-up here. The story is quite well done with a nice third act twist to the proceedings. He also has a great sense of pacing and doles out the information and shocks in appropriate measures.

In spite of this being McCarthy’s first feature film, his direction is pretty assured. He favors some decent tracking shots in the house. Special effects are kept to a minimum but work fine.

Apparently, The Pact did well enough to spawn a sequel, the obviously named The Pact II. The Pact II is written and directed by Patrick Horvath and Dallas Richard Hallam who appear to have no connection with the original film.

I am not a big fan of the haunted house subgenre but The  Pact is quite good and I highly recommend it.

Dark Space

 

Dark Space (2013) – Not Rated

When their shuttle is damaged on the way to Centari Five, six friends crash-land on an alien planet, where it soon becomes clear they’re not alone.

I say do it. What’s the worst that could happen?” – obviously shortly before disaster strikes

Okay it didn’t start with “The Asylum Presents” so that is a good start. The effects are somewhat cheesy but again not as bad as Asylum. They’re actually quite good for what I assume is a micro-budget movie.

This is Emmett Callinan’s feature film debut as writer and director. He also serves as editor. The story is serviceable but pretty silly. Right after the ship crashlands and one person breaks a leg, four of the others go for help (in spite of having no idea what planet they are on or if there is civilization). The first thing they do is go skinny-dipping in unknown waters. Huh?

Acting is just okay though everyone seems to be giving it their all. The often too obvious dialogue works against them. No one seems to take their situation seriously. I understand they were all drinking and doing drugs before things went kablooey but surely in the intervening hours someone would have sobered up.

Dark Space is a passable waste of time but there are so many better science fiction movies out there on Netflix (Galaxy Quest, Star Trek Into Darkness, .Existenz, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Metropolis, etc.)

The Blood Glacier Machine

Blood Glacier and The Machine are currently available on instant Netflix.

Blood Glacier

 

Blood Glacier (2014) – Not rated

After a glacier in the Alps leaks a mysterious red liquid, a group of scientists must defend themselves against hordes of biological monstrosities.”

The most egregious fault with Blood Glacier, and there are a lot of them, is that the dubbing is ridiculously poor. It was as though they grabbed some random people off the street and had them read a previously unseen script. This is mostly a problem because it makes Blood Glacier seem much worse than it is.

Blood Glacier is still a mess, a hodgepodge of environmental ideas and a rather liberal theft of John Carpenter’s The Thing. These things would normally cause me to dismiss this film but Blood Glacier does have some things going for it.

The natural setting is handled well though it seems as though the glacier would have melted much earlier given how warm it seems in various scenes. The practical effects are well-handled and very nice to see in this CGI age (not that there isn’t CGI here as well).

Overall Blood Glacier is just a misfire.

The Machine

 

The Machine (2013) – Not rated

During a cold war, Britain’s Ministry of Defence steals the first-ever self-aware cyborg and trains it to become a brutal fighting machine.”

Ah, at last. The Machine is one of those gems you search for and find after watching dozens of drecky, lesser efforts. The title is apt if a bit too non-descript. Caradog W. James wrote, directed, and executive produced this low-budget science fiction thriller that once again posits the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Caity Lotz carries the film as both a bright young scientist and the weapon she creates. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she currently plays Black Canary on Arrow. Toby Stephens is just fine as the head scientist, Vincent (and can currently be seen as Captain Flint on Black Sails). Denis Lawson is a suitably menacing bureaucrat in charge of the super soldier program.

The setting is mostly restricted to a single, rather plain, base. The movie is not particularly flashy and the action sequences are rather pedestrian. The script is quite good as is the story behind it and, at a bare hour and a half, the movie never overstays its welcome.

I highly recommend The Machine for any lovers of intelligent science fiction.