Pod (2015) *
D: Mickey Keating
C: Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden
Plot Synopsis: A family intervention goes horrifically awry within the snowy confines of an isolated lake house.
Review: In this day & age, it's been said that you have to grab the audience's attention within the first 2-5 minutes. This has often resulted in writers & directors tacking on an opening sequence which usually involves a character encountering some kind of malevolent entity or person.
In Pod's opening sequence, we witness a character who come across some kind of force that rips his dog to shreds. This character grabs his gun and we know that some kind of confrontation has ensured. From there, we proceed to a story involving a brother & sister confronting their mentally unstable brother who claims that he's captured some kind of evil pod that's locked away in the basement.
For two third's of the running time, the characters argue about whether there's an evil pod or not. It's not a bad premise, but since the opening has already clued audiences into that there's indeed an evil force at work, we already know that something's locked away in the basement. Any element of surprise or mystery surrounding whether this pod exists or not is rendered useless since we already know it does.
So for 50 or so minutes, viewers are stuck waiting for the characters to catch up to what the audience already knows. The characters aren't so much characters, but bystanders who are there to either doubt what's going on, to be caught in the middle or to convince others of what's going on. The cast gives it a go, but they're stuck with weak material. However, that's no excuse for doing something more. The performances are predictable, so they should've done something unexpected to liven things up.
In terms of production values, the special effects are acceptable. There's some striking cinematography. The set decoration is effective at conveying the mental instability of the brother. Overall, from a technical prospective, this is a perfectly serviceable film. However, perfectly serviceable isn't good enough.
The script is fundamentally flawed. So the technical elements are the only shot that this has at any kind of redemption. Pod lacks the interesting color palate of the original Halloween, the maniac camera work of the original Evil Dead, the realistic set decoration of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the stand out special effects or surprising performance of Betsy Palmer in the original Friday the 13th.
I cite these films for a particular reason, because they were all low budget films that in some way transcended their respective sub-genre in the horror world. Pod frustrates me in the worst way, not because of the story, which is admittedly weak, but because it feels like the players involved with this production coasted along on good enough, instead of trying to give us their best. [R] 78 minutes.
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