From the first few seconds of The Pact, one thing is clear—McCarthy has amazing composition and editor van Zyl knows how to cut. The first half or so of the short is a conversation between a brother and sister, played by Sam Ball and Jewel Staite, respectively. Two more things become clear as the conversation progresses.
First, McCarthy writes great natural dialogue. The details of the film slowly come out over the beginning over the conversation, never forced. Second, he knows how to direct actors. For the conversation, the majority of Staite’s performance is physical, how she tilts her head, what her eyes communicate. Ball gets the flashier lines.
Then the film changes, becoming something uncanny, while still retaining the reality. McCarthy introduces the idea in the conversation, then carefully shows it.
The Pact’s single problem is a fast dolly for emphasis. Otherwise it’s perfect. McCarthy’s a fantastic filmmaker.
Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy; director of photography, Bridger Nielson; edited by Adriaan van Zyl; music by Ronen Landa; production designer, Walter Barnett; produced by Sam Zuckerman; released by The Farmer Company.
Starring Jewel Staite (Anna) and Sam Ball (Adrian).