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THE PACK (aka LA MUETE, 2010)

Directed and written by Franck Richard

Starring Yolande Moreau, Émilie Dequenne, Benjamin Biolay

INSIDE, MARTYRS, FRONTEIRS, all French, all scary as hell, and all some of the best horror the world has to offer in the past few years. Well, though THE PACK may not be on the same level as those three modern classic horror films, it still proves that despite an unfathomable liking for Jerry Lewis and unappetizing food, France has good taste in horror.

I found this film to be utterly endearing in that it refuses to commit to one genre. At first it’s a TRUE ROMANCE style flick where a guy and a girl meet and it looks like they both mean trouble for each other. Soon it turns into a biker revenge flick. Then an overbearing mother enters the picture and the tone shifts to a more HOSTEL-like atmosphere. Then the zombie mutants show up…

By the time the Pack does show up though, I gave up trying to categorize this film and just sat back and enjoyed the hell out of it. There’s a devilish sense of humor throughout as the heroine played by Emilie Dequenne tells jokes and presents as hard as adamantine nails in the face of danger. The sheepishness of Benjamin Biolay adds to the fun as his overbearing and badass mother tries to attend to her undead mutant brood. Sure the contraption used to feed the beasts and the reasoning behind it all is a bit muddied, but why ask questions like that with a movie this fun.

The Pack themselves seem to be channeling Doug Jones a la the creepy eyeball palmed beast from PAN’S LABYRINTH. They writhe around stiff armed and threatening, howling at the moon and giving off an utterly eerie vibe. The design of the creatures is strong with the gestures of the actors under the mask adding a lot of depth and terror to the creatures’ presence.

Though I felt that the story kind of lost its steam toward the end as conventional horror film trappings are set off, THE PACK is a film that keeps you guessing. Director/writer Franck Richard does a great job not only with creative lens work, but unconventional transitions from one scene to the next reminiscent of early Raimi. With some memorably horrific monsters and an acidic sense of humor, there’s a lot to like about this French treat.

Plus the elderly sheriff has a “Fuck on the first Date” t-shirt, which made me laugh out loud every time he was on screen.

Check out the trailer here!!