Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: POD (2015) [Joe's Take]

The Premise
The initial premise of Pod is that a brother and sister are on their way to their deranged brother’s cabin because they fear he’s suffering a psychotic meltdown. However, because the movie is called "Pod," you know up front that his delusions are going to be real, because in movies about pods, they always are. If the movie had been titled something else, they might have created a bit more tension with the whole “Is he crazy, or are there pod people?” conflict. And that would have been a good thing, for two reasons:

1)  There’s someone locked in a basement, and you know it’s either a monster or an innocent victim. Except that because this movie is called "Pod," you know it’s a monster. If it were called “Guess What’s In the Basement?” or “Possibly NOT a Movie About Pods” then the tension might have lasted longer. That last title would have been especially appropriate because…


2)  THERE ARE NO PODS. Sure, they’re referenced. And I’m pretty sure there’s a crazy drawing of one on a wall in the brother’s cabin. But there is no scene in a movie called "Pod" that contains an honest to god pod. If they had titled this “There Are No Pods,” you probably would go through a lot of the movie assuming the brother was crazy, only to be surprised by the plot twist, and then delighted at the end when you looked back and realized that, even though the brother was not crazy, there were technically no pods!

I’m also pretty sure there was supposed to be a pod. I think someone made an editorial mistake that they meant to go back and fix and they forgot! Like when you realize a paragraph is a mess, so you cut out 90% of it, without realizing that was your only pod scene (!!!), and then you’re like “Yeah, this looks good. Much tighter.” And now you’ve got a movie called "Pod," with no pod. If you think such a terrible mistake in judgment is unlikely, then you probably haven’t seen Pod.

The Story Arc
 In every horror movie, there are things you’re either actively trying to figure out, or at least anticipating. In Pod, you should be trying to figure out if the brother’s crazy and who is in the basement. But, as discussed, you’re not. Instead, you’re wondering “How are these assholes going to die? And is it going to satisfy me?”

Because the characters are the worst. Only the crazy brother is remotely likeable, and his hair is the best thing about the whole movie. It looks like he shaved his head and put on a toupee backward. It’s amazing. If the movie had been titled “Psycho Hair,” or “Hell Toupee,” it would have been much more accurate.

His death is perplexing because he slits his own throat (he knows he’s being taken over by the parasite or whatever) and you know he’s going to come back evil. But he never does. Or you never see him do it, although there’s a second monster at the end of the movie that might be him. It’s probably him. But that only occurred to me days later. There’s no cue that the crazy brother who slit his own throat is turning into a critter, or that he has risen. Is that scene also on the editing room floor?

The sister’s death is satisfying because she is a human alarm clock. Of all the screaming, histrionic females in horror history, she may be the most grating. The death itself is generic: she gets shot. But, god, what a relief.
The Performances
 In a movie titled "Pod," that has no pod, the performances stand out as the worst part. I don’t even want to talk about them. Okay, the crazy brother does a fine job. He acts really crazy. In fact, I’m positive he is or has been a drug addict. Here’s why: when an actor who isn’t a drug addict plays a drug addict, they focus on one tic, and that becomes their go-to. Because you don’t need more than that. Just close your eyes hard and open them wide every 10 seconds or so and everyone gets it. But the crazy brother has ALL the ticks.

The sane brother is awful. All of his interactions with the other characters are terrible. Just like I’m sure that the crazy brother is REALLY a drug addict. The sane brother makes me sure that the person who wrote this film is an asshole. Because why else would your characters be such jerks to each other? Why would you make a movie called "Pod" and not have a pod in it?

In the end, everyone is killed by an agent who is presumably a part of the conspiracy that is responsible for pods and pod monsters. Except the agent is an overweight, older man in frumpy detective clothes with some really obvious hair dye. It’s like the bad guy from this movie is the extra from another movie who wandered onto the set and just started shooting people.

There’s a scene where he’s just shot the sane brother and he’s supposed to walk through the snow toward the house. But the snow is hard and uneven and his shoes are slick. It’s the sort of thing any director would look at and reflexively scream “CUT!!!” But instead of reshooting and having him walk up the driveway or breaking up the snow, they just wrapped that shit. And now that I think about it, I am sure that nothing was left on the editing room floor, because there was no editing room floor. This whole movie is first takes.

The Scares
When the sane brother descends into the basement to investigate who’s down there, it’s a little scary. It’s dark, you know there’s a monster and the only light source is a naked light bulb. But when the monster finally attacks, it looks like a human/booger hybrid, and it mostly seems to scratch people.

Oh! Oh! It’s voice! Oh god. It has the feeblest monster scream ever. It’s like they took two licensed monster screams, played them at the same time, and turned the volume way down to kind of a “Eeeeeeeerrrgh.” In retrospect, that sound is a pretty appropriate reaction to this whole movie and probably would have been the best title too. There’s lots of “Eeeeeeergh” in it, after all.

My Questions for Paul

JD:  So, Paul, what did the crazy brother’s hair look like to you?

PH:  At first, I was thinking Miley Cyrus, but now I'm more on the Adam Duritz/Beaker train.  In any case, I guess the idea was that he was CRAZY because he cuts his own hair.  Come to think of it, doesn't he cut the rest of it off later in the film?  It's like he was already trying to get over this role before the film actually ended.

JD:  Did he haul the pod back to his house? Or did he beat up and drag the critter back? How did that go?

PH:  What pod?!  Joe, I'm worried about you.  There is no pod.  Have you seen Dr. Nick lately?  He's really good--you can tell because he only uses his first name, like Dr. Phil or Dr. Pepper.  (Pepper is a first name, right?  Like for a girl?  Did you know Dr. Pepper was female?)

JD:  How do you think they auditioned the sister? How did she win that?

PH:  I'm guessing she threw a tantrum and everyone was like rolling their eyes and thinking "whatever" because she has hipster bangs and of course she's going to get cast opposite the guy with the hipster moustache/burns combo. 

JD:  What the fuck is wrong with this movie?

PH:  A deep question.  This is the kind of movie that makes you really reassess the meaning of your life.  To explain what's wrong with it, you first have to wonder whether there is something wrong with you. Only then can you . . . ah, screw it.  This movie is like getting a root canal on the wrong tooth.  It sucks from start to finish and afterwards you can't even say that it has made you any better.

JD:  On the page for this film, the writers are listed as “Mickey Keating, Mickey Keating”. Why do you think that is?

PH:  Hmmm.  Mickey Keating, Director, would make sense.  But "Mickey Keating, Mickey Keating" suggests that his job is being Mickey Keating, as if he's only playing himself.  It's one of those brainfuck meta things, where you can't really complain about the directing because it's a piece of avant-garde performance art--Mickey Keating would never direct something this awful.  But "Mickey Keating" sure would.

Feel free to ask and answer your own questions below!

And click here to read Paul's take on Pod.


  1. This post / review is epic! I
    Just finished watching this movie and this review fits how I feel to a tee! Well done!

  2. terrible review. movie is much, much better than you give it credit for. for one thing, the actors' preformances are amazing. secondly, it keeps you guessing. third, the revelation at the end creates more interesting questions. my only complaint is that it leaves out the creature's origin and who smith and the other "agent" are.