Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pontypool Is A Town Known For There Killer Conversation Skills


If you walk into Pontypool expecting a straightforward zombie movie then you will be disappointed. The film is more like a distant second cousin to the zombie genre. Similar to 28 Days Later, Pontypool is about a virus that spreads throughout a small community, and turns people into zombie like beings. The interesting thing is that the virus is not spread through bites…but words. Yes, I said words. While you may initially scoff at the idea of words being lethal consider for a moment that entire film takes place inside a radio station.

Former big time radio personality, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), is now forced to work in the small town of Pontypool. The town only has one radio station and it is located in the church basement. Mazzy constantly clashes with his producer, Sydney (Lisa Houle), over how things are done in the big city versus in a small town. One day, while on the air, Grant receives word from a roving reporter that a large mob of locals are attacking a prominent doctor’s house. Soon more reports start flooding in about town folks doing horrific things. As the terror inches closer and closer, Grant and Sydney race to fill the airwaves with updates and save themselves in the process. Yet are the updates really helping people? Or are they just making the situation worse.

Bruce McDonald crafts a solid film out of a very unique premise. Pontypool will surely annoy many hard core zombie movie fans, as it takes a vastly different approach to what you normally expect to see in zombie/viral movies. First off, the film has a surprising amount of humour in it. The writing in the first half of the film is quiet sharp. Also, by setting the film in the confines of a radio station is a brilliant move. It not only helps to build the tension, but it also forces the audience to create their own images of what is happening outside. At times the film seems to trip over its own logic. This is most evident in the latter part of the film. Needless to say Pontypool is definitely an offbeat film, yet the first half was strong enough for me to recommend the film.

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