Last night at 4:05am I turned off the lights. At 4:11am I was out on the balcony, heart pounding, heels not fully inside my shoes, and peered into the pitch-black garden, from where a noise I couldn’t identify had come. Welcome to the side effects of MERCILESS PACT!
This is a minimalist, concentrated horror chiller set somewhere in the Texan woods, and it had an odd, almost warlike effect on me: I felt like being stationed in the wrong place at the wrong time (and in the wrong clothes). MERCILESS PACT made me nervously look around for some camo apparel, made me want to crawl out of the dangerous zone of my own visual imagination.
But Brown’s well-crafted, clever story is not about the miseries of war. No, he comes up with a quite different lethal scheme here, with a supernatural mix that makes for nothing short mutual massacres. MERCILESS PACT preys upon the vulnerable self, upon our fears of losing control. Subconscious yearnings, excesses bordering on exorcisms, the pull and abuse of power and the private terror of the unknown are the substance of this harsh piece of horror. Its mood is 100% macabre. Whadd’ye think, death waits over every single word here.
Greg, a harmless enough guy, has a strange, puke-related encounter with a friend, and starts to feel funny to his stomach: everything he eats happens to taste like steamed socks. Strange in addition, a sinkhole in the woods close to his house suddenly seems to be pervaded by an evil spirit, and thus incarnates the scariest thing at least I can imagine: an entity that infects human souls with sick fantasies of omnipotence, and forces them to sacrifice loved ones. Equipped with calm, daemonic cruelty, this spirit turns human innocence and friendship into a killer machine-like hunger.
To get away from a battered life full of painful memories and boredom, Greg strikes a bizarre bargain with the evil spirit. The bait, just like in Goethe’s ‘Faust’, is immortality, but Greg himself only understands half of the deal. Which is why next thing we find him pick off chance victims, and slaughter them in neat, bloodthirsty rushes: his new, otherworldly hunger must be fed.
MERCILESS PACT shows unblinkingly how people can lose their innocent reflexes and responses; how decency that seemed just dormant for a wee while can turn out to be bone-white dead. OMG did’ya hear that? Came from the garden –
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