Director – Mickey Keating
Cast – Brian Morvant, Dean Cates, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Pod is a film I did not plan to see, ever. I came across constant negative reviews, and seeing its miniscule budget left me thinking it would be another indie film where the talent is just as weak as the budget. Boy was I wrong. I started seeing those I respect in the genre giving the flick some positive buzz, so I figured if they liked it then it couldn’t be that bad. It’s not. It’s actually really good, really scary, and a testament on how to accomplish a lot with very little.
The story follows siblings Ed and Lyla as they travel to the family lake house to stage an intervention for their brother Martin. He has never been the same since returning from his military service. He believes he was experimented on, and that a greater government conspiracy surrounds them. When they arrive they find the house, and Martin, in terrifying condition. To make matters worse, he claims to have caught a monster and locked it in the basement. As Martin insidiously succumbs to his mental instability the siblings realize they are in serious danger. Their situation could not get any worse, unless, Martin is telling the truth…
Pod is a 76 minute mashup of X-Files and The Twilight Zone. Throughout the film you are constantly asking yourself “is this real, or is he full of it?” while hoping for one or the other to be true. If you enjoy psychological horror then you’d want this to all be in his head, but if you are like me and you enjoy the more tangible creature horror, then you’d hope he’s telling the truth about what’s in the basement. The is a simple story that is expertly executed by one of the genre’s up and comings, Mickey Keating. I love this tactic of keeping us just as confused as his siblings are. Ed, the sensible one, is sure that Martin has lost his mind and must be treated by medical professionals. On the other hand, the more open-minded Lyla is afraid of what would come if Martin is indeed telling the truth. You’ll surely identify with one of them, which is what kept me so engaged in the story. At only 76 minutes in length, there is a lot of development – 49 minutes of it – or 64% of the overall runtime. The story never drags though, and that is a result of pacing things just right and always giving the viewer a little more to hold on to until the goods arrive. At this 49 minute mark the story takes a turn that ups the ante to supreme levels. It’s a turn of events that I knew was coming, but it still came with a few surprises and more than enough jolts. I can’t speak more without spoiling the outcome – just know this outcome is very much worth your time. It also involves veteran horror actor Larry Fessenden in a small, ambiguous role.
While Keating succeeds as a writer, his direction brings this story to life. He achieves solid performances from all involved, with Brian Morvant stealing the show as Martin. He gets more work as a stunt man than an actor, but Morvant is absolutely incredible in this piece – maybe my favorite horror performance of the year. Keating’s execution of the long, mystery-driven development is crucial to keeping you engaged in what is going on. I loved the sets used, and the location for the lake home is genius. It’s isolated, spooky (thanks to what Martin did to it), and it comes with aching floorboards and a plethora of sounds that’ll leave you wondering (and hoping) that something is in the basement. His direction of the horror is of expert level, and you don’t see that too often in films from unknown directors with low budgets.
Overall, Pod is a film I recommend to those who enjoy sci-fi mysteries like X-Files and The Twilight Zone. At only 76 minutes it’s a breeze where good direction and solid writing will keep you hooked from the get-go and marveling at its incredible conclusion.