Ed (Dean Cates) and Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter) have not seen their brother Martin (Brian Morvant) in a long time. The trio doesn’t appear to be very close. When Ed mentions to Lyla that his child is about to start school, he adds that it would be nice if his boy were to meet his aunt someday. But that’s actually the least of Ed’s concerns. He fears that something is very wrong with Martin. Martin is a veteran living at the family’s old lake house in Maine. While hunting in the woods one morning he finds that his dog has been brutally killed. He then sees (and shoots) something that terrifies him. Not long after that Ed receives a troubling voicemail from Martin full of disconcerting ramblings. He proceeds to enlist Lyla in a rescue effort. That is the basic setup for POD, which is written and directed by Mickey Keating (Ritual).
A lean and mean, small-scale thriller, POD makes up for what it lacks in originality and budget with a rapid pace and shocking, potent violence.Upon arriving at the lake house, it’s clear that Martin is not well. He has essentially quarantined himself inside the house. He is frantic and paranoid, and he goes on and on about military experiments, blackouts, mysterious drugs and, oh yeah, a “pod” that is in the basement. While one sibling is frightened and the other annoyed, both are concerned. They bicker about the best course of action, but Martin does something awful before anything can be done.
At barely just over 70 minutes, POD has no fat. It moves briskly and barely gives viewers a chance to ponder what is happening or the validity of the tale Martin is weaving. The downside of this is that Martin, Ed, and Lyla are fairly thin characters and not entirely believable as siblings. On the other hand, things move so fast you probably won’t notice or care.
A major asset is Keating’s ability to establish and maintain a claustrophobic atmosphere. He keeps the camera tight on the action whether it’s verbal sparring or something a little more physical, and the house feels like a prison. The three leads are solid, and the always welcome Larry Fessenden drops by in a small but pivotal role.
Delivering a bleak ending that aligns well with the remote setting of Maine in winter, POD establishes Keating as a promising young genre director. It’s a little rough around the edges, but good enough to make you want to see what he does next.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Mickey Keating
Writer(s): Mickey Keating
Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Larry Fessenden
Release: August 28, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Vertical Entertainment
Length: 78 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Alien Abduction