Review: POD

Pod-2015-PosterParanoia and the idea of alien life-form is something that viewers have always found incredibly appealing. There’s just nothing like experiencing a film that leaves you guessing the whole time, making you bite your finger nails at the question of whether or not you’re watching somebody lose their mind, or if something is actually out there. It worked for THE X-FILES, and works absolutely wonderfully for Director Mickey Keating’s POD, a film that will give you more panic attacks than any other film this year, all while providing one of the year’s most entertaining genre features around.

If Keating’s debut RITUAL was his attempt at the approach of John Cassavetes making a horror film (spoiler: that attempt paid off, it’s easily one of my favorite films in years), POD would be his conspiracy theory-filled masterpiece, telling the story of Ed and Lyla (RITUAL‘s Dean Cates and JUGFACE‘s Lauren Ashley Carter), a brother and sister taking a trip to their family’s cabin, in hopes of reaching their psychotic, conspiracy-filled brother Martin (a phenomenal Brian Morvant). What Keating does so very well in his films, is giving you fully fleshed out characters before throwing you into a madness-filled genre film, and that approach is in full effect with POD. Even before Ed and Lyla had out to the snow-filled landscape in which the family cabin and Martin awaits, we as the audience already are given great strokes of character development in the film’s two leads, knowing that they lead two completely different lives and aren’t close whatsoever, something that comes in handy later on in the film. Ed is all about plans and having one, while Lyla is more of a free-spirit, the two butting heads continuously on their way to reach their lost in the head sibling.

When arriving at the cabin, Ed and Lyla find the place plastered with newspaper, foil and a downright scary scene, and when Martin appears brandishing a rifle, as a viewer, you know he’s not playing with a full deck mentally. Talking a mile a minute, Martin yells and twitches about abduction, capturing a pod in which he has locked in the basement, and having been implanted with an alien device. It’s an overwhelming scene, the introduction of Martin, but in one hell of a good way, Morvant absolutely shines in the role, coming off almost Manson-like in the way that he talks. It’s apparent that the guy has some psychological damage, and as Ed does his best to try to reach his brother and talk him into coming with them to get help, the more Martin talks, the more that the easily swayed Lyla begins to believe his conspiracy rants.

Keating’s ability to get naturalistic performances out of his actors is on full display with this one, each actor doing an absolutely enthralling and downright terrifying job helping build tension within the film. We as viewers don’t know what to believe, is Martin out of his mind, or is he actually telling the truth? The mystery of it all is just so compelling to watch, and when the film’s layers are peeled back, little by little, the payoff is one of madness and completely masterful storytelling from the budding filmmaker (who has already shot TWO films since wrapping POD). There isn’t a single weak link in the film, and the storytelling and its twists and turns will not only entertain you, but will knock you on your ass more than once.

If RITUAL and POD are indications of what Keating is able to do with genre storytelling, then he doesn’t only have a good future as a filmmaker, but a good future as an IMPORTANT genre filmmaker, one with a singular and unique voice.

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