Written by Tony Burgess
Directed by Bruce McDonald
2008 - Ponty Up Pictures / Shadow Shows
Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle. Georgina Reilly.
Eclectic Rating: stars
Pontypool is 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 in my opinion.
Veteran radio jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is en route to a new gig in Pontypool, 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.
It's a spooky start and sets the mood of the film perfectly. I found myself drawn in to the story because I felt as unsettled and isolated as the characters seemed to be.
As the film unfolds Grant Mazzy works on building a relationship with his new radio 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. This further emphasizes the feeling of isolation, which is key to the tension.
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 the bizarre event.
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 film is really quite unsettling from a psychological point of view which is, I guess, why it worked for me. Pontypool manges to hit a nerve that other psychological horror-thrillers don't. It is disturbing, but still contains enough standard plot elements to keep the pace while keeping us guessing as to exactly what's going on, and what ultimately may become of these poor survivors trapped in the radio station.
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 disjointed Tarantino feel to it. Strange.
Pontypool, Pontypool. Something is always just about to happen, isn't it? Isn't it?
"Hey! ...hey... Who are you!? ...who are you..."
Find Pontypool at Amazon.com (paid link)More about Pontypool at IMDb.com
Last Update: 09 May, 2019