Movie Review: “Pod”

   Pod is a 2015 horror-thriller film directed by Mickey Keaton (2015 also brought his horrorfilm, Darling), starring Larry Fessender (I Sell the Dead and Jug Face)Lauren Ashley Carter (Jug Face and the title role in Mickey’s Darling film) and Brian Morvant (a long-list of stunt-work, but I haven’t seen him anywhere except minor roles, however, his role in this film has been widely praised).

   In the film, Smith (Fassender) arrives at the doorstep of his sister Lyla (Carter), albeit not welcome, and informs her that their brother Martin (Morvant) isn’t doing well. Their brother Martin is a former military man, now secluded to their family’s lake house as he endures symptoms of PTSD. The gist of the film’s premise is this: Martin‘s nuttier than a fruitcake about all kinds of different conspiracy theories and claims to be harboring a creature in the basement.

   The film calls to mind Twilight Zone and is written with influence off Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and all that inspiration is vastly visible. In-fact, I read some critics go as far as referring to it as too ‘derivative,’ but I see it as an homage that boasts enough wellness in execution to be regarded on its own merit. I’ve also heard comparisons to a 2006 film calledBug, with a similar plot, but, like I said, the storyline itself is generic. The concept’s been donemillions of times in fiction, it’s execution that will make or break the film. And with Pod, the tension skyrockets to Nth degrees in some instances, and I can’t stress how much I enjoyed the cinematography and stylization.

   The director‘s intentions were to start the film off as a family-drama and because of that, the siblings, Lyla and Smith are able to develop a certain rapport. It’s said he advised the actors to approach their characters without concern over where it was headed. This is an approach not seen too often in horror, and it started off well. The cast is able to entertain and seem realistic.

   As they meet Martin, the film takes a more dramatic and vivacious turn. Pod is mostly dialogue driven, but the cast makes the most of it. Morvant was well-received for his role, but I think everyone in the bunch deserves credence. Morvant seems natural in his role of the paranoid, apparent madman, and Smith banters with him in a way that comes off with depth. In that, Smith seems to legitimately care about his brother, but has a very matter-of-fact callousness.

   The story-line is painstakingly simple, however, and that works to its detriment. I wouldn’t call it derivative, because I think the narrative itself is so downright obvious that nobody can have ownership of the idea. Pod is the sort-of film where you see the end from a mile away, but that doesn’t keep the entertainment-value of it from poking through. The run-time makes the simplicity somewhat forgivable. The 76-minutes fly by, but at the same time, it suggests the idea’s payoff could have been flushed out better. 

   And lastly, for criticisms, I’ll say as the film advanced, the development of Smith and Lyla wanes, and their dynamic loses itself. Lyla’s party-girl antics and spunk dissipates, and her character is lost in the shuffle in the midst of Smith and Martin’s arguments.

   Pod‘s cinematography, music, and editing all make this film a standout to me, however. I adore the way that it’s shot, and the loud, abrasive sounds always make the stakes seem high. The atmosphere itself is enough to make me recommend this film.

   In a sense, Pod is style over substance, but with such a capable cast of characters that are actually well-equipped and developed, and the aesthetics, I accept it. But will admit it’s predictable, safe, and works a familiar premise without adding a new spin.

Rating: – 3.0 out of 5.0