SXSW Film Review: Pod

Family reunions meet gruesome conspiracy mayhem

What is worse: To know that a family member is insane, or to know that their unhinged tales of monsters in the cellar may be true?

Pod, director Mickey Keating's deviously intriguing followup to cultist murder mystery Ritual, taps into a supernatural/suburban ambiguity reminiscent of the best of The X-Files. This time, Mulder and Scully are siblings Lyla (Lauren Ashley Cates) and Ed (Dean Cates). He drags her, begrudgingly, to stage an intervention with their mentally unstable brother Martin (Brian Morvant). He's holed up at the family's remote cabin, leaving nothing more than a babbling phone message that is either a warning or an invitation.

Lauren Ashley Carter faces more than just family drama in Pod

Keating's focus is on the family dynamic, as the pair contends with the idea that Martin may be a: insane b: the victim of a government conspiracy or c: both. Rather than a sedate psychological drama, he runs full-tilt at a family in meltdown, as they face hideous and increasingly grisly peril.

His kinetic, chaotic style (established in a screaming hyperspeed credit sequence) creates a febrile edginess, as sympathies switch between straight-edge Ed, burnout Lyla, and Martin's deranged ramblings. In what is basically a three hander, stunt man/actor Morvant furiously pushes the scenario to its limits, making the increasingly dangerous and erratic veteran equally enthralling, terrifying, and tragic.


Pod

Midnighter, World Premiere
Tuesday, March 17, 11:30pm, Lamar
Thursday, March 19, 11:30pm, Lamar


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Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. For scheduling on the go, here's a SXSW Film Pocket Guide, which includes the handy Film Grid. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW, Pod, Mickey Keating, Lauren Ashley Carter, Dean Cates, Brian Morvant

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