The Pack (movie)

Continuing my fascination with French horror cinema, recently I watched The Pack (2010), in French with subtitles, directed by Franck Richard and starring Yolande Moreau, Émilie Dequenne and Benjamin Biolay. It is a film that gets mostly bad reviews, but I enjoyed it despite a few gaping narrative holes. Spoilers abound; read no further if spoilers bother you.

The movie starts with a tattooed, chain-smoking punk rock girl named Charlotte driving across a really creepy and isolated part of the country, nursing a broken heart and listening to CDs.  She has an encounter with some bikers who harass her and picks up a hitch hiker named Max. Note that these bikers are not ‘Tour-de-France’ bikers, they are leather-clad motor cycle riders. She and Max strike up a friendship of a sort. They arrive at a greasy diner where the bikers catch up with them; the rape of both Charlotte and Max seems eminent, but the owner of the diner, a tough old woman, pulls out a shotgun and tells them to bugger off.

Max goes into the bathroom to wash up after the fight and disappears. Charlotte decides there is a mystery afoot, talks to a fat, lewd and retired alcoholic policeman who is hanging around the diner and discovers what looks like a secret door in the washroom.  She comes back that night, after the restaurant is closed, to find out what the secret door is about and to try and figure out what happened to Max. She gets hit on the head from behind and ends up in a cage in the cellar along with some other unfortunates.

Max and the old woman are, it turns out, are mother and son and have been capturing travelers and torturing them, draining their blood for nefarious purposes.  Charlotte and ‘John Wayne’ (a fellow prisoner in a cowboy hat) end up hanging from a scaffold set up in front of a shack at a nearby abandoned mine site while mother and Max watch.  During the night, eyeless goblins in coveralls (perhaps mutant miners or their offspring?) crawl out of the ground and drink their blood.  ‘John Wayne’ is torn limb from limb and a weakened Charlotte is returned to her cage.

The fat, lewd, retired alcoholic policeman finds Charlotte’s car hidden under a tarp and decides that the woman who owns the diner has been lying to him about Charlotte having moved on.  He breaks into the cellar and frees Charlotte.  They kill/cage the evil mother and declare temporary truce with Max.  Max tells them they have to take care of the ‘goblins’ and he and Charlotte set off for the mine while the fat lewd policeman gets strangled by the evil mother who isn’t dead after all.

Max and Charlotte arrive at the mine shack only to discover that the bikers have taken up residence there.  The bikers announce that they intend to rape Max and Charlotte, but then evil mom shows up with her shotgun and starts shooting at them, blowing holes into their feeble shack.  Max shows the biker that there is a stash of weapons hidden in the shack and they board the place up in anticipation of the blood goblins arriving and wanting their blood.

One of the bikers goes outside the shack and mortally wounds the mother.  As he stands over her, gloating, the evil old woman tells him he is fucked and smiles as the blood goblins come out of the ground, rip out his heart and eat it in front of him.  Max, Charlotte and Biker #2 blast away with shotguns while Biker #3 reads a novel.  Unfortunately, the blood goblins won’t stay dead and they really want blood.

The shack ends up on fire, we don’t know what happened to Max and the bikers all die messy deaths.  Charlotte manages to escape, but gets caught in a snare and tracked down by the blood goblins, one of whom starts either chewing on her thigh or giving her cunnilingus (or maybe both).  Suddenly we see that she is pregnant and running the diner with Max, but, no, that is just a dream…  The film then ends with her hanging from the scaffold, one of her legs chewed off, and she is obviously not long for this mortal coil.

I don’t think the origin of the blood goblins is ever explained.  Max says something about his mother losing it after the rest of her sons were killed in mine accidents before the mine was shut down and that the miners had dug too deep buth if this means that the blood goblins are his brothers in some undead form is not made clear.  When I saw Charlotte pregnant, I assumed we were going to find out that the blood goblins were the offspring of people in the area, but then it turned out to be a fucked up dream so never mind.  The people in the film didn’t call them ‘blood goblins;’ that’s just my name for them.

The film is equal parts “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes” with some “Frontiers” thrown in for good measure.  I can understand why it got bad reviews, but for Eurotrashsploitation horror cinema I found it pretty enjoyable.  On my personal French Horror Film scale, not as good as The Horde or Frontiers, but better than Prey.



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