Ponty Up Pictures / Shadow Shows
IMDB describes this film as "A psychological thriller in which a deadly virus infects a small Ontario town."
That's good if you need to describe the film in 13 words or less, but such a description misses the mark. Ponypool can't be lumped in with other thrillers about virus epidemics, it is much more than that. Ponypool is actually quite a unique horror film in the zombie apocalypse sub-genre, with the suspect virus stemming from the psychological. It is based on the story "Pontypool Changes Everything" by Tony Burgess, and well worth the watch.
Veteran radio jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is en route to a new gig in Ponypool, arguing with his agent along the way. Driving through near blizzard conditions he stops at a traffic light and is startled by a woman who bangs on his passenger side window. She's hardly dressed for the weather.
She's saying something, but he can't understand so he rolls down his window. She starts backing away from the car as he calls to her. No one else is in sight, be he hears voices. Oddly, the voices are repeating his own words, like echoes.
Arriving at his new job he settles in behind the microphone and talks with his audience. He asks them if they think he should have called 911. After all, the woman could have been in trouble. But actually, she was more like a warning of trouble yet to come.
As the film unfolds Grant Mazzy works on building a relationship with his new audience, and delivers local news items and other information fed to him by his producer and engineer. Only the three of them are present at the studio for the late night radio show. The studio building is otherwise vacant, dark and quiet, except for the loudspeakers mounted outside, broadcasting the show to the winter storm beyond.
One news item involves a local doctor's clinic being overrun by a riotous crowd of people. The station's "eye in the sky" roving reporter calls in to cover the event, and he shares observations of strange behaviors. The people he sees are walking funny, talking funny, and some seem to be trying to eat others.
It has something to do with the words. And broadcasting their signal outside may not be such a good idea, because before long a crowd begins to form around the studio, effectively trapping Mazzy and his crew inside. The people are repeating words, over and over.
The doctor who managed to escape the clinic arrives at the studio, and they let him inside. He sheds light on the situation, the virus, and how it spreads. They bring him in to the soundproof control room so Mazzy can interview him on the air, his producer joins them, but their engineer begins acting strangely. She seems sick, and walks away for a little while.
After sharing the doctor's insights with the audience, and warning them of the virus and the zombies, they are startled when the engineer returns, bloodied and crazed. She begins running herself, uncontrollably, into the window of the control room. Mazzy, his producer and the doctor look on in horror.
Trapped, with zombies starting to make their way into the studio, they must learn how to beat the virus, and escape the zombies to survive.
The ending is a little simple, and somewhat anti-climactic, but it works well enough. The ending, after the ending, is odd and has a little Tarantino, disjointed, Kill Bill feel to it. Strange.
Pontypool is cool and creepy, even mildly disturbing on a psychological level. Well worth the rental. Hell, I'd even buy it!
Pontypool, Pontypool. Something is always just about to happen, isn't it? Isn't it?
"Hey! ...hey... Who are you!? ...who are you..."