First, excuse my lack of posting last week as I was in a mostly WiFi free place – it’s true, they do exist. As way of an apology I’ll do some additional posts this week. Lets start off with a movie review then, a film which I had heard mostly good things about before I got a chance to watch it myself.
A horror film with a premise regarding the use of language, a film where the action takes place largely on a single set, a film with a small cast who react to unseen things happening outside their doors. Pontypool was never going to be a huge hit due to the aforementioned points, but that’s a shame because it is one of the most memorable and innovative horror movies of recent years. That premise, which many would see as a weakness, from a commercial standpoint, ends up being its greatest strength. Based on the book by Tony Burgess, the film uses the small cast and set to create an atmosphere of foreboding, and the script allows plenty of chills and uncertainty. Burgess adapted his own book, ensuring that even the most difficult ideas translate clearly to the screen, with director Bruce McDonald keeping the pacing even whilst making the film appear more like a stage production.
The films centres on radio announcer Grant Mazzy, a former shock jock, and his small team who find themselves in the middle of an inexplicable outbreak in the wider outside area. For most of the movie they are trapped indoors by a snowstorm, only hearing vague reports of escalating violence through sparse transmissions. Inside the Radio Station, Mazzy clashes with his manager Sydney and young technician Laurel-Ann. Eventually the group discover that there is a spreading infection which latches on to a host when they use certain words – they will begin repeating the word in an attempt to understand it, eventually becoming crazed and trying to eat the mouths of others. The problem is that no-one knows which words will infect, and it appears that different words can infect different people. As a horde of infected try to burst into the station, the infection takes hold inside.
The film plays out rather slowly which may disappoint some looking for quick and fresh zombie action. The film never reaches a stage of frenzy or action, but this never stifles the tension or the sense that something awful and inescapable is taking hold. Although the ending seems a little too easy, it makes sense given the premise. However, when the final moments post-credits take on a stylized Sin City look it leaves us wondering what a possible sequel could look like. The three main performers are all equally strong, with special praise to Stephen McHattie as Mazzy (playing alongside his real-life wife). Sound is used extremely well throughout, with groans and clicks, whispers and cries all creeping through the radio waves, and from beyond the walls of the station – indeed most of the early scares are sound-triggered.
Pontypool is a film which has all the ingredients of being a future cult favourite, but as it stands not many people seem to have seen it or be talking about it, which is a shame. It’s a rarity these days that horror takes a gamble, and even more rare that the gamble pays off, but it all comes together for Pontypool. A horror film which may be more suited to non-horror fans, it’s one that implore all moviegoers to give a go.
Have you seen PontyPool? Would you consider it a strong entry into the Zombie sub-genre or do you even consider it a zombie movie at all? Let us know in the comments!