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The Pack (Blu-ray Review)

PackIn The Pack, man’s best friend becomes his worst nightmare when a horde of bloodthirsty wild dogs descends upon a family’s farmhouse.  Generating a steadily mounting sense of dread, The Pack cleverly toys with genre conventions before it goes in for the kill. The Pack also includes the featurette “The Making of The Pack” and theatrical trailer as bonus features.  Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.  This film sort of kicks off a kind of werewolf month for the label in July.  I don’t know if it was by intention, design or by accident, but there are three lycanthrope related films being released on Blu-ray by them within the coming weeks.  This, being the most modern and the other two being vintage films making the Blu-ray jump (Bad Moon and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf out later).  Okay, this isn’t werewolves sorta speak (Its just straight up wolves), its canine-esque fueled thriller with people under attack from them.  And maybe I spotted a moon here or there.  Leave me alone I’m trying to throw this all together somehow. 

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Film 

In a remote stretch of the Australian Outback, a sheep rancher, his veterinarian wife, and their two teenage children live in bucolic isolation — until a horrifying night when a pack of fang-baring, four-legged, rabid beasts besiege their home. With no one around to help them, the family must band together to survive — or else become canine kibble.

An interesting concept for a nature attacks thriller is found here in The Pack.  Its just a group of wolves that decides to make its prey a family who lives in the middle of the woods.  And these wolves, well, they are persistent and don’t give up for anything.  What’s good about this idea is that its makes the antagonist one unpredictable and vicious adversary.

The Pack knows how to make for some pretty good intensity.  There are some fun moments where the wolves will pop up and give chase.  Its not just a simple thing either, they’ve been built with their agressiveness with scenes where they actually get their kill.  And seeing how they just don’t quite really ramps up the tense factor for when the family is being hunted by them.

There are some cool graphic and gory moments in the film.  Problem being, you can both see and not see what they have going on.  Maybe due to budgetary constraints as well as effects that maybe weren’t turning out the way they were intended, this film is super dark.  Yes, its nighttime, but man this one is pitch black.  A couple attacks give us some good blood, but many find the messy stuff lost in the shadows.

For a little nature attacks thriller that features animals doing a home invasion basically, this isn’t too bad.  Its a solid thriller that gets right to the point and stays focused on the chase and intensity.  Its nothing spectacular, but its a solid watch.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Pack features a full, rich and emboldened image.  Its a dark image, but a sort of beautiful looking deep dwelling darkness.  Details are abundant, as there are establishing shots where you can make out wood grain patterns and defects on the house far away.  Wall texture inside the house also is quite discernible in an impressive fashion.  

Depth:  Decent depth work.  Most of this film is really dark so its hard to get a full scenes of spacing and whatnot, but from what you can see its pretty good and not even a lick of being flat.

Black Levels:  Really deep, but beautiful looking blacks here.  This is a dark, dark movie, but has some really good creepy shadowy, darkened scenes.  No crushing witnessed.  Detail is lost in the fold, but its made up for in a sort of gorgeous nighttime aesthetic.

Color Reproduction:  Some scenes feature this green filter over the film.  Colors are natural in appearance, with a good bold looking strength to them.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent through the entirety of the film.  Freckles, moles, make-up, dried and wet blood, sweat and any little facial tick is present on this transfer.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  The Pack packs on a really intense 5.1 mix.  The violence here is rough, nasty and in your face when it occurs.  The dog growling and howling is crisp, deep and well rounded.  Sounds of flesh being shredded and eaten is grisly and grotesque in this layered mix.  This one knows how to bump in a moment of horror and be loud and full on cue.

Low Frequency Extension:  Music stings, growling, beating against walls and dog attacks all deliver a bit of push from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front channels pick up a good bit of nasty, as well as marking placement of characters and tracking movements well.  Rear channels primarily provided environmental ambiance with a little bit of low volume score.

Dialogue Reproduction: Crisp and well displayed diction.

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Extras 

The Pack comes with reversible cover art featuring an alternate poster design.

The Making of The Pack (HD, 7:57) – This focuses a lot on the dogs in the film, but don’t worry, it also has  the typical “everyone fluffing the director” talk.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:49) 

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Summary 

Should you pack your shopping cart with this wolf home invasion thriller?  Well, maybe at at a solid price point.  Its a fun little watch, but not the kind of sickness a rental can’t really cure. The film features a terrific presentation in both audio and video.  Not much in the way of bonus feature, but you do get some interviews in the form of the brief “Making of” featurette.  Fans of the film as well as people collecting these IFC Midnight titles will definitely be picking this up, but all else should rent it first.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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