A Short Horror

 A thriving online positivity influencer battling cancer chooses to die alone, using an assisted-suicide pod that promises the perfect death based on a person’s online algorithm. However, when her dark secret seeps into the simulation, she finds herself trapped in her nightmare, fighting to get back to her family. 

Pod is a short horror film set in the future, where people can choose to die in an assisted suicide pod. This euthanasia machine creates a virtual simulation that distracts a person from the dying process based on a person’s online interests. 

In 2017 a euthanasia machine was developed, promising a peaceful death to those who use it. Assisted suicide is the most contested ethical subject globally, tackling spiritual, political, financial, and social values. The commentary around euthanasia being glorified as mercy and the debate that it is murder scared me. How do we know that the victims of assisted suicide have a peaceful end? This overarching question spurred the creation of Pod. 

I wanted to tell a story of a dying woman’s last hope to die quickly and pain-free, but instead– she is met with her nightmare. “You die the way you truly lived.” 

Pod speaks to the fear of technology taking away from our human experience, as the Black Mirror series (2020) profoundly does. Pod deals with the horror of science controlling our deaths and, in our final moments, acting as “God”, removing all filters to reveal and judge what we do online and hide from the world. 

Empathy and tension should build in the film’s first half alongside a moral dilemma. If Anne chooses a peaceful death, she’ll die alone, but if she dies naturally and painfully, she will be with her loved ones. Asking the question – would you let your loved one die painfully with you or pain-free and alone? The underlying suspense builds with Anne’s desire for peace contrasted with the reality of her looming death and the nurse’s caring yet macabre excitement at the prospect. 

When Anne enters her death simulation, expressionistically, it’s peaceful, pain-free and mimics her Instagram page, light and easy on the senses. But, as the simulation glitches and filters are removed, low-key lighting increases anxiety and suspense, revealing Anne’s truth and flaws and forcing her to face a serial killer. 

In the simulation, diegetic sound creates a realistic visceral effect—the tinkling of the chimes, the rustling of leaves, the crow cawing, and the knife slicing through a wet tongue. 

such as honey, known as the elixir of life, hint at choice. The removal of tongues ironically speaks to victims and Pod, both unable to tell their truths. It also alludes to the human condition of silencing one’s shame. 

Pod slowly peels back layers to create a fine line between horror and empathy. The true sense of dread settles in the final scene under the bright fluorescent light of Pod headquarters when the nurse welcomes a sick patient, another victim distracting themselves from the human experience of dying and potentially stepping into a nightmare. 

Ultimately, Pod keeps its promise – it gives you the death you deserve based on what you do online, forcing the audience to think about their own digital lives because it’s only a matter of time before our deaths are handed over to technology.