Pontypool (with special guest review from contest winner Nathan)

Release Date: 1/26/2010 (DVD) – Rated R

Starring: Stephen McHattie (Watchmen)

Plot Summary:  Pontypool is normally a quiet little town in Ontario, that is until this Valentine’s Day.  DJ Grant Mazzy and his producer Sydney settle in for another boring day of school closingS and local news at the radio station;  things do begin to get exciting when they begin to receive calls about a mob gathering around a doctor’s office.  They loose the connection and are not sure what to think about it, so they just go on with their normal day.  It isn’t until they receive another call, about members of the mob attacking and eating those that cross their path, that they begin to get worried, but still think it might be a hoax.  Not long after that a member of their staff begins acting weird; humming and repeating words over and over.  At that moment a man breaks into the radio station… it is the doctor whose office was being attacked my the mob, and he has an explanation for what is causing this.

He believes that there is some sort of infection that is spread through the English language and certain words trigger it in different people;  he observed infected people attacking others then killing themselves.  The small group are forced to lock themselves in the sound booth as the infected staff member tries to attack them, after failing to kill anyone she vomits and dies.  Just then the doctor begins repeating words as Grant and Sydney flee into another part of the station for fear that he has been infected.  As they wait and try to figure out what to do next, Sydney begins repeating the word ‘kill’ over and over.  Grant gets her confused by telling her that ‘kill’ means ‘kiss’ and that seems to cure her.  They go back on the air with one of them saying a word that they have heard the infected using, and the other one saying that word means something else.  The government shows up at that point and begins killing everyone, and upon hearing the gibbering coming from the radio station believe that those inside are infected as well.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I understand what the film makers where trying to pull off here, but I just didn’t like the way it was done.  This was originally supposed to be a radio drama, and probably should have stayed that way.  I just thought that a virus spread through speech was kind of lame, as were the zombies that you saw for a total of three minutes.  It was also a little too preachy for me, and I just prefer more zombies in my zombie movies.

Tim’s Thoughts: I have to partially disagree with Alex, I think this starts as a nicely paced war of the worlds-esque story, then as the third act hits, it degrades into some “eh” zombies/infected, and a jumbled explanation which the more I think about it, the more it feels hastily thrown together ending. I think stoners will enjoy this, because that’s the only way I can see the cause for the outbreak making sense. Since I am not one, this was something that started strong, and faded. Stay till after the credits to be good and confused.  Despite my critical words, I think the beginning of this movie is really strong, and it makes it an “OK” movie for me, not awesome, not horrible, but “OK”

Nathan’s Thoughts:A lot of zombie/infected creepo films claim to break ground with their spin on the zombie genre, but until I saw Pontypool I hadn’t really been blown away with a fresh look on the the undead and their living dopplegangers since 28 Days LaterPontypool’s intelligent take on the subject matter is fresh and original, and its use of language becoming infected, with the act of mere communication becoming the vessel for outbreak, seems to be a great metaphor commenting on how mass-communication can work for and against the people who rely on it from day to day.  The performances are all great, with special mention going to Stephen McHattie as Don-Imus-by-way-of-Howard-Stern shock jock Grant Mazzy. The script is refreshingly simple in its approach, and, despite a post-credits epilogue that seems much too jokey to be taken seriously, is very well written.  It’s a scary, fast paced take on the infected zombie film that, while juicy at times, relies more on brains than… ahem… guts.

Final Thoughts: We came in all across the board on this one, I (Tim) think that both Nathan and Alex have excellent points, so watch it if you like your zombie movies with less zombies and more message, and I don’t mean that in a snarky way. Romero’s zombie movies have always had a message, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Thanks Nathan for a great suggestion, and an even better review.

Alex Rates This Movie 4/10

Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

Nathan Rates This Movie 8.5/10

“We’re not talking, I’m drunk. This is how my last relationship ended.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here