M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Five of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2014 and going through September 30, 2015. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on August 28, 2015. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD! Also streaming on Shudder!

POD (2015)

Directed by Mickey Keating
Written by Mickey Keating
Starring Lauren Ashley Carter, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant, Larry Fessenden, John Weselcouch, & Forrest McClain as the Pod!
Find out more about this film on Facebook here

Sometimes writing horror reviews is a chore. There’s a lot of crap to sift through on a weekly basis, but I try to chug through hoping that by sifting through the turds, sometimes you find that rare diamond of a horror film worth screaming about. POD is one of those diamonds.

Ed (Dean Cates) is worried about his brother Martin (Brian Morvant). A war vet, Martin suffers from mental instability and after leaving a frantic message on Ed’s phone, Ed decides to gather up their little sister Lyla (THE WOMAN and JUG FACE’s Lauren Ashley Carter) and go out to Martin’s cabin in the woods to check up on him. While the family bonds are strained, Ed convinces Lyla to go out to the cabin with him, but they are not prepared for what they encounter when they get there as Martin is delusional and unhinged, ranting about aliens, conspiracies, mind control and a monster trapped in the basement. While Ed and Lyla try to calm Martin down and get some answers, the real question is; is there a monster in the basement or is it all in Martin’s head?

Monsters in the basement aside, POD is a film about paranoia. And being about an intangible concept like paranoia, whether or not it is effective relies firmly on the shoulders of the cast. Bad cast equals zero convincibility. Good cast and you’ve got a winner. POD is a winner because on all sides, the cast is phenomenal. This is a small film; reminiscent of a play where three characters are trapped in a single locale, but while the scope is small, the stakes are made monumental by the fantastic performances by all three. Staunch and by the book, Cates’ Ed really does well as the overstretched connective tissue of a family that has come apart at the seams. He is utterly convincing as the overburdened caregiver older brother. Morvant’s Martin could easily come off as laughable as he rants insanely about conspiracies and monsters, but he doesn’t at all, divulging enough information in his mad rants to make us wonder if there is something real going on here or is he just nuts. The real character to latch onto here is Carter’s Lyla. While she is absolutely beautiful, she is also making quite the career for herself appearing in one excellent horror film after another. Here she is somewhere in between the two opposite brothers, just loopy enough to have Martin listen to her and just together enough to understand why Ed is concerned about him. The way the three of these siblings interact with one another is complex and utterly convincing. Add in a short part by character actor/writer/director Larry Fessenden and it seals the deal that this is a cast to die for.

So convincing, in fact, that I was on the edge of the edge of my seat for most of this film transfixed on whether or not the creature was real or not. As the story goes on, it’s almost unimportant, as the relational stuff between the siblings is so well done. But when we go into the basement, writer director Mickey Keating delivers nerve shredding moments of tension and terror. Using forced perspectives, creative shadowing, and other camera tricks, I was wondering just what I was seeing and overwhelmed with a fear of the reveal more so than most other films I’ve seen this year.

POD is an excellent slice of tension and I couldn’t recommend this film more. Every frame oozes paranoia. It’s fantastic to see director Keating deliver so many scares and thrills with such a simple story and so few effects. A strong cast and a firm grasp of what we get to see make this film a winner from the first to the last frame. Highly, highly recommended.

Click here for the trailer!

THE 2014-2015 COUNTDOWN!

#19 – POD
#30 – EXISTS

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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