Pod (2015)

pod-2015

“A family intervention goes horrifically awry within the snowy confines of an isolated lake house.” — IMDb

This movie starts off like many a winter isolation movie before it — with a freakin’ dog getting killed in the woods. This is our brief introduction to Martin (Brian Morvant), a dishonorably discharged veteran who is now suffering from a slew of mental illnesses and has isolated himself at the family’s cabin deep in the woods of Maine. He leaves a vague but worrying voicemail for his brother, Ed (Dean Cates), which prompts him and their sister, Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter), to stage an intervention… though they find something far more disturbing than expected when they arrive.

Honestly, I was disappointed by this one. It felt like they tried to cram a bit too much into one movie, and a short one at that (with only a 76-minute run time it’d be hard for much of anything to not feel rushed). We’ve got the dysfunctional family dynamic (with Ed and Lyla annoying the crap out of me with their constant bickering), the psychiatrist-brother (the apparent justification for him being a condescending prick), the mentally unstable veteran, the government conspiracy theory, the cabin in the snowy woods, and, of course, the monster, whatever it is. I think if it was done better it would almost feel like a lost episode of The X-Files but, as it stands now, I don’t want to even insult such a brilliant show by making such a comparison.

The acting left much to be desired… from everyone, really, but they went with such a stereotype for Martin’s character, with the long, drawn-out stream of consciousness babbling and the pacing and the literal tinfoil on the windows. It just wasn’t believable and honestly it was distracting to have him constantly moving around the screen, pacing and doing his very best “crazy guy” act.

Their whole confrontation with Martin and revealing that they planned to take him to a doctor — it’s implied that it’s a doctor that he knows and has some prior issues with — and his violent reaction are, I think, good (albeit extreme) examples of just how wrong interventions can go. It’s tragic, in a way, that they went to help Martin and it wound up taking such an extremely dark turn. His suicide was indeed shocking, though, and one of the few interesting twists of the movie.

He had previously been trying to tell them about how the military had experimented on him (and many others) — there’s a briefly bloody scene of him pulling out some teeth he is convinced have devices embedded in them — and how he has a creature trapped in the basement that he found in a pod in the woods. He was convinced that the government is attempting to create some kind of assassins, and Ed and Lyla are still worried about WHO (or what) he actually has imprisoned in the house. The moment of Ed yelling “hello?” down into this pitch black void of a basement was surprisingly scary… just not knowing what might be ready to answer on the other end was briefly terrifying. He goes down to explore (what!?!?) and, naturally, the power goes out (check the 34872nd stereotype off the list) and he is attacked in the darkness. He narrowly escapes and sends Lyla to go for help, which means we get to hear EVEN MORE of her screaming. Honestly, she spends like 67% of the dang movie screaming her face off (or crying, or just being otherwise hysterical).

This is the point where it is confirmed, yet again, that Martin was right, this really IS a conspiracy, as Lyla encounters a mysterious man (Larry Fessenden) in a car who wastes no time shooting her and cramming her body in the trunk. He goes to the house and takes care of Ed as well, and then we hear him phoning in to another mysterious person about the state of things before he himself is killed by the creature. I understand keeping this aspect of the story so brief — the tragedy of knowing how close they were to starting to understand, and knowing that Martin WAS telling the truth after all, is key. But, sadly, this part of the story is wayyyy more interesting than siblings arguing or Lyla screaming or any of the other things that filled a majority of the movie.

Again, I think a bit more polished (and with better acting all around), this could have been a real gem. I will definitely keep an eye on this director, though, since I think he’s going in a cool direction! I believe this was his third film and I’ve heard great things about a couple of his others since (Darling and Carnage Park), so we’ll see!

Rating: 3/10 | Director: Mickey Keating | Writer: Mickey Keating | Music: Giona Ostinelli | Starring: Lauren Ashley Carter, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Larry Fessenden

 

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