Sometimes indie films surprise you. Sometimes they are able to out-produce their budget. Sometimes they seem to be filmed in someone's garage with director's cousins. And sometimes an indie film is just right, much to the happiness of dear-ol' Goldilocks. Pod is one such film. It didn't blow my mind, but it didn't disappoint in most aspects.
Pod kicked off with a well-designed open. It did an excellent job of grabbing your attention and establishing an early tension. I loved the character firing wildly into the woods and then actually hearing the thud of the bullet as it made contact with something living. It immediately grabbed my attention...attention that was retained effectively through most of the film.
The soundtrack was forboding and atmospheric throughout, and really helped to establish a consistent level of tension throughout. It was at times overbearing, especially in between jump scares of psychotic "flashbacks", to the point that it was getting frustratingly disruptive, but for the most part it helped hold the mood together.
The acting was pretty good for the low budget. The two leads played off each other well, while the psychotic ex-military brother did his part of the crazy UFO loon. There is such a fine line between understated psychosis and over-acted insanity, and perhaps a few too many times the actor crosses the line, but the reasoning is only further established as the film goes on and acts as an after-the-fact resolution.
The best of the atmosphere culminated into an excellent reveal in the basement. It was one of the best shot horror scenes I have seen in a while, especially in the indie realm, and it made the properly placed tension up to that point all the more worth it. While the action and terror stays amped up from then on, it never matches that scene in, what I can best describe as, organic, natural filmmaking.
The plot's methodical story conflicts with the rage, confusion, and psychosis of the ex-military brother, and even the filmmaking carries some of these psychotic breaks throughout. It was distracting and the overbearing nature of it made the film underwhelming at times. Its constant shifting and questioning of reality was fun, and it was even nice to have a bit of explanation left up in the air by the end. We thankfully aren't left with "was it real or imaginary?" But more-so, "what was that and what just happened?" We never get a full explanation, and that's ok, even though admittedly this kind of thing bothers me, especially when if comes across as lazy. But, for this film it seemed purposeful and driven to what we'd seen up to that point.
The special effects were decent for the creature. I will always applaud any respectable attempt at practical effects, even if those effects end up a bit bland and the sure-fire budgetary issues prevent any fully visible moments. Still, they were strong enough that they certainly didn't pull me from the film or necessarily disappoint.
There is so much worse than Pod on Netflix. It has decent qualities across the board and doesn't have any obvious flaws that are worth noting as deal-breakers. At the very least it's worth a glance as a decent indie horror film with good use of its budget.
Horror Qualifer: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 5/10