Michael vs. Thomas: DEAD SILENCE and POD
Michael Rich and our Editor-in-Chief love horror films and hate each other. In the spirit of the great horror face-offs of history, they’ll be going toe-to-toe in the ring and covering the horror films of Netflix in Michael vs. Thomas.
Logline: In the face of terror, staying quiet is nearly impossible. But if she hears you…you’ll never say another word.
Michael: I think the reason DEAD SILENCE is/was a disappointment for most horror fans is that it was James Wan’s SAW followup. Can it hold a candle to SAW? No. But honestly, it’s a decent killer puppet movie.
Thomas: It didn’t quite hold up for me watching it all these years later, but I will agree that it has a certain campy charm to it. I think the main takeaway for me is that Wan was willing to do something so radically different from SAW. Plus, I’ll stand by the fact that the beginning scene is one of the creepier introductions to a horror film I’ve seen.
Michael: I disagree with you. I think part of DEAD SILENCE’s problem is that it isn’t all that different from SAW. The music, the twist ending, the fact that the puppet is named “Billy”… It just feels like SAW-lite with a different plot. However, I would like to go on record as saying that the twist is pretty fucking cool.
Thomas: I’m always impressed that even when we agree, we disagree. DEAD SILENCE and SAW are completely different films tonally, as DEAD SILENCE entirely lacks the indie tension and grit that made SAW what it was. DEAD SILENCE to me reminds me of some of the deeper cuts of the 80s and 90s with its “dark fairy tale” premise, while SAW would kick off its own wave of “realistic” torture porn 2000s horror. Besides, I thought the universe was in agreement that the twist is the dumbest part of the movie…
Michael: Oh, it’s stupid. The fact that they had the balls to follow through with it is what makes it awesome. My favorite aspect of the film is the technical mastery, especially the gritty shot on film look (which once again we disagree on) and clever camera movement. It’s interesting to see early shades of what Wan would become.
Thomas: I think we can find common ground in saying that in the hands of anyone else but Wan, this would have been a complete turd. I found the coloring ridiculous, especially when scenes occurred in the daylight outside, but I think this is an ideal Netflix horror outing in terms of entertainment and cheap thrills.The beginning and the end are appropriately creepy.
Michael: It’s a bit of throwaway film, but a solid one-time Netflix pick for sure.
Logline: Their brother’s a war veteran, mentally unstable from the trauma. That’s all there is to it, right? Not even close.
Thomas: Ahh…the first good Mickey Keating film I’ve seen… 🙂
Michael: Thomas, come on. Keating is one of the most unique, upcoming horror talents. CARNAGE PARK, DARLING…
Thomas: I wait with bated breath for when CARNAGE PARK comes to Netflix so that we can have it out, but in terms of POD, I found it a tight, economical thrillride. While I can see that it might turn away some viewers, my favorite part was how the second act is essentially a very tense stage play, with lots of internal character tension propelling the narrative forward. That, to me, was a fresh take on a familiar genre.
Michael: I was a little worried initially because POD is essentially William Friedkin’s BUG, without as great of actors. Still, Keating is able to ramp the tension enough to keep me invested. It also doesn’t hurt that the movie is only 78 minutes long.
Thomas: On the topic of actors, I thought they were the saving grace of the film. Brian Morvant’s Martin and Lauren Ashley Carter’s Lyla were standouts. The film might occasionally toe the lines of being overacted, but I think that that just frazzles the audience’s nerves as much as the characters. Plus, gotta love the creature feature third act!
Michael: Spoiler alert, Thomas. Yes, I am glad that POD went down the route that the creatures actually exist. Did you enjoy the Smith angle?
Thomas: I’ll admit to being surprised when Smith deals with Lyla the way he does, but I suppose I would land as indifferent on his inclusion in general. To me, that was too heavy of a homage to the paranoid sci-fi thrillers of the 50s and 60s, and how comparatively light it was on homage is what endeared me to the rest of the film.
Michael: Keating’s work, in general, is very homage heavy. I do appreciate that POD is the least blatant about it. Though, you do have the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD ending…
Thomas: Right, it isn’t entirely original, but I enjoy how Keating gives the narrative room to breathe instead of just making it a rapid-fire monster flick. My only other complaint is that it might have been interesting to make it more ambiguous as to whether or not an actual alien was living in Martin’s basement. But still, I would heartily recommend this to Netflix browsers.
Michael: A big thumbs up from me for POD! Also, I feel like we didn’t argue enough for this review. Want to go fight behind the dumpster?
Thomas: Just say the words “CARNAGE PARK is a great movie” and you have yourself a deal.