Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year on Ain’t It Cool News in October! And what a fantastic year in horror it was! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down my favorite horror film released since last October 1, 2014 and covered in my weekly AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2014 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column six years ago!) and worked and reworked a list throughout the year until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness; just my own personal favorites. The only rule qualifying the film for this countdown is that it had to be released to the masses (via theaters, digital download, On Demand, or DVD/BluRay) within the range of October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. Anything before or after that span of time doesn’t count in this haunted dojo. I’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or just missed making the list for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the pick, it’s placing on the list, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, let me know your own personal faves from the last year in horror…let’s go!
Available on ITunes here!
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!
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Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Sometimes writing this column 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 the encounter when they get there as Martin is delusional and unhinged, ranting about a monster trapped in the basement and mind control. 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 of the main cast. 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 if he’s 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 much 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.
Worth noting: DIGGING UP THE MARROW!
#31 – AN AMERICAN TERROR
#30 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#28 – THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
#27 – DEAD SNOW 2: DEAD VS RED
#26 – THE GREEN INFERNO
#25 – THE EDITOR
#24 – THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
#23 – WITCHING & BITCHING
#22 – EXTINCTION
#21 – WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
#20 – BACKCOUNTRY
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 6. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!