Deliberate in its style and with a naturalistic approach to framing the Australian wilderness, The Pack is a 2016 animal attack film by first time director Nick Robertson. This is a mostly a slow burn type of thriller where the methodology seems to be less is more. Less special effects, less plot, and less effective dialogue and characterization.
The Pack is the story of a family living out in a farmhouse in the remote wilderness of Australia tending their sheep and struggling to make ends meet. Their life is flipped upside down when a pack of wild, man-eating dogs stage an all-out assault on their home with the intention of driving them out and eating them alive.
This is a film as rife with clichés, idiotic character decisions and non sequiturs as it is with savage dog mutilations and thrilling moments. Yet, there is a lot to enjoy here. The atmosphere is intense and there is some extremely effective moments wrapped in the beauty of some splendid nature shots to highlight its wild landscape. There are some lingering shots especially at the beginning of the film that treat the film more like a slasher than an animal attack film; the beasts dashing quickly in the background almost out of sight, tracking their victims; that are especially effective. The lack of special effects and its dedication to showing us real dogs, hunting their prey, catching them, and eviscerating them instead of CG animals adds a gritty visceral layer of authenticity. All of this helps to overcome some extremely stilted dialogue and acting that achieves boredom more than an earnest and heartfelt feeling of sympathy for the soon to be victims.
None of this is helped by some daft decision making by the family that puts them all at risk. For instance, the family chooses to expose themselves to the wild dogs early in the attack instead of barricading themselves somewhere safe and waiting it out. This does a lot to crumble the façade of tension as the viewer becomes focused more on what they would do than what is happening on screen. A home invasion film whether by masked marauder, or homicidal animal is always best served by intelligent character decisions and The Pack sorely lacks in this area.
However, it’s lean plotting, sharp filming and effective tension building helps The Pack rise just above the rest in the genre.