Pod (2015)

First published by Little White Lies

Featuring, like Ted Geoghegan’s We Are Still Here, a basement and Larry Fessenden is Pod, written and directed by Mickey Keating (Ultra Violence, Ritual). While lacking anything like the budget or scale of The Cabin In The Woods, it is mostly set in one, and similarly challenges viewers to a knowing game of spot the subgenre.

Ed (Dean Cates) has driven his alcoholic sister Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter) out to their late parents’ lakeside, snowbound cabin in “middle of nowhere, Maine”, where their other sibling Martin (Brian Morvant), a disturbed war veteran, is holed up and apparently in need of intervention. Having lined the outer doors and windows with tin foil, Martin rants aggressively about military experiments, conspiracy and a top secret ‘pod’ that he has captured and kept locked in the basement – ever since, drawn to a tracer implanted in one of his teeth, it attacked his dog. Not only do these sound like the ravings of a madman, but Martin has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and violent fantasy.

Playing out under the resonant glare of The Last Man On Earth (1964) on Martin’s TV set, Pod turns on an ambiguity (are we watching a psychodrama or a creature feature?) which will be resolved only when Ed finally, inevitably, ventures into the dark cellar to see if there is anything or anyone really down there. It is a simple, moody film, more talk than action, which presents two possible scenarios in its first two acts, before another narrative frame (via a Fessenden cameo) triangulates its way into the third – and coming in at a breezy 80 minutes, it never outstays its welcome.

Anton Bitel