Pod (2015)

Two estranged siblings, Lila and Ed, journey to the family cabin in order to convince their troubled brother to accept medical help. Only it turns out that Martin, a veteran with a long and sordid history of psychiatric problems, has the windows covered with tinfoil, bloodstains on the walls, and somebody – or something – locked in the basement. What results is a long-winded conspiracy that ruins a perfectly good plot.

Pod tries. It really does. The cinematographers pulled out all the old tricks to make a dark, cluttered interior look interesting, and the actors work double-time to give their characters any semblance of depth. Unfortunately, the script really doesn’t give them enough to work with, thrusting them into a chaotic moment without enough backstory to give the audience a reason to care about what happens to them one way or another. There’s some vague sadness in watching someone in crisis while their family members struggle to try and help, but the audience just doesn’t have enough of a hold on who these characters are to find their struggles compelling. Which is a problem, since the plot leaves so many wonderful opportunities for character development that just never come.

The soundtrack never leaves any ambiguity to the scenes, the dialog is solidly delivered but never provides any depth beyond the surface details, and the characters end up screaming incoherently at each other far too often. To be fair, screaming is an understandable and common response to trauma, which Pod has its share of, but unfortunately it’s a behavior that becomes repetitive and annoying when displayed on film.

Brian Morvant did excellent work as Martin, providing the strongest and most interesting performance of the film. Sadly, Pod doesn’t give him much of a character arc or even personality – he’s defined entirely by his illness. It’s a credit to Morvant’s acting ability that he managed to give a compelling performance despite this. I would have loved to see more of him than the little that Pod provided. It might not be enough to watch Pod just for his performance, but it’s worth taking a look if you’ve got the afternoon off.