I'm sure I will stop be intrigued by sorta interesting descriptions of sci-fi/horror movies on Netflix soon. Yep, any day now. But not by Memorial Day weekend, when I watched Pod!
Three siblings. Ed's the oldest, a doctor of some sort, clearly used to being the responsible one, but in that way where he makes a big production of how responsible he's having to be. Lyla's the youngest, seems to have a drinking problem. Martin was in the military and sent to the Middle East for awhile, and doesn't seem to be doing well. He left Ed a message about figuring out something big, and so Ed drags Lyla along to check on him. Martin lives in an isolated family lake house in Maine, and he's not doing so well. He's lined the doors and windows with foil, the house is a mess, he pulled out a tooth he says had a tracking device in it. Oh, and he claims a creature made by the military killed his dog, and was after him. But he caught it and has it locked in the basement.
We're meant to wonder if Martin's telling the truth or not, although we saw the dog dead in the snow. But making him Movie Crazy, with the wild gestures and sudden laughter, like Robin Williams playing crazy, or maybe present day Nicolas Cage. It's hard to take it seriously. Depending on their age, if you walked into your siblings home and saw them acting like this, you might suspect it was an elaborate joke. Although we learn Martin's had violent episodes in a hospital previously to try to justify his behavior being this extreme. But we learn that from Ed, presented with the same martyr complex attitude of "Why am I stuck being the adult?". Which is the kind of thing that screams that he doesn't understand what he's dealing with. You can just tell he's so sure of himself he's going to get a rude awakening. So everything is kind of undercutting each other.
Except maybe Lyla's concern for Martin. She listens, encourages him to explain what he's talking about, believes him about being experimented on. Maybe you are supposed to encourage those beliefs, but it lends a little credence to his claims, reinforces the idea this is his family and they do care, and plays off Ed's attempt to be the Boss, because he takes it as her not 'being on his side.' Even though you could argue she's doing more to win Martin over than Ed is.
The first 45 minutes revolve around this. Ed and Lyla trying to figure out what's happened to Martin and what they're going to do. But you know at some point they're going to enter the room with two padlocks on it, and that's the last half-hour (it's only about 80 minutes long). An abrupt shift into a struggle to survive, with the addition of some guy who is a Tool of Some Shadowy Power to deliver some vague exposition and ensure an unhappy ending. The movie feels caught between two different objectives. Either it needed to play up the mystery of whether Martin was nuts or not more, or focus on the struggle to survive more. As it is, neither one felt filled out sufficiently.