28th Aug2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Pod’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, John Weselcouch, Forrest McClain | Written and Directed by Mickey Keating

pod2

Ed and Lyla are so worried about their psychologically unstable brother Martin they head to the family cabin in the woods to stage an intervention. What greets them is a raving paranoid individual rambling about a government conspiracy that’s threatening his life and claiming he’s holding a military issue prototype ‘pod’ in the cellar. Is the veteran soldier having the complete mental breakdown they feared? Or could it really be true?

Talk about claustrophobic filmmaking! Three people crammed into a small house in the woods, all getting in each others faces… Sound familiar? Its a premise that has been reused and revisited over and over again in the horror genre, to varying degrees of success. From the highs of The Evil Dead to the lows of… well, frankly, this movie. A prime example of movie-making by numbers if ever there was one. And that’s depsite a great idea at its core.

I can appreciate what the fimmakers were trying to do. Obviously the idea was make the audience question whether what transpires is paranoid schizophrenia at is wildest or not – by building the suspense and air of mystery to such an extent that the audience has no option but to wonder if what they’re watching is a horror movie or a glimpse in to the mind of a paranoid, “government is out to get me”, tin foil hat wearing, loony. Which is a neat idea. It’s just a shame about the execution, which loses all tension and momentum the more the family squabble and the more we DON’T see what’s behind that cellar door…

There’s nothing wrong with the films concept as a whole, it’s just that by the time Pod finally does come clean – almost an hour into its 70-odd minute run time – you’ll be so invested in the notion that this is a conspiracy drama about a madman and the havoc he’s reeking on his siblings that you won’t care there is a monster in the basement… And if you do care, well the films ends before it ever really begins the monstrous portion of its tale.

Had Pod‘s big reveal, that Martin is not a loony and there really IS something behind that locked door, come earlier then… no, the reveal is – sadly – too little way to late. What also hurts the film is the overwrought production, packed with every horror cliche in the book. I don’t think the appearance of the films monster could be anymore stereotypical (it looks like a mummfied “grey”) or utlised in such a cliched manner. And then there’s the copious amounts of overacting from those involved, in particular Lauren Ashley Carter, whose character goes from helpful, if teary, sister to screaming horror movie cliche in a matter of seconds.

The best bit about Pod? The end of the film as the camera looks eeriely around what is now an empty house, as if from the point of view of the audience and there’s one more, no THE only effective [jump] scare in the whole film. Oh, and of course the appearance of one Mr. Larry Fessenden (it wouldn’t be Frightfest without him in a movie or two would it?).

* 1/5

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