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October 24, 2010

Movie Review: Pontypool

Pontypool is an ambitious effort. It is smart, atmospheric and filled with enough tension and paranoia to keep most intelligent horror fans happy. There is a downside, though. The film may be a bit too smart and its plot conventions come across as a bit confusing.

Pontypool is based off the series of novels by screenwriter Tony Burgess. Now, to be fair, with the limitations of film, the idea of Pontypool is a difficult one to get across. Burgess does his best and the end result is very impressive. Bruce MacDonald’s direction is top notch as well. It helps that I’m a sucker for one location movies. Intrinsic claustrophobia is an effective tool and MacDonald and Burgess are right on the money. Pontypool is, thankfully, a departure from the standard infected person/zombie sub-genre and works on multiple levels.

Radio DJ Grant Mazzie (Stephen McHattie turning in a stellar performance) is too big for the little Canadian radio station he works for located in the remote town of Pontypool . He is acerbic, confrontational and loves to rile up his listeners. Too bad for Grant that his listeners are already riled up… infected with rage as a matter of fact. Trapped with his producer (Lisa Houle) and technician (Laurel-Ann Drummond), Mazzie takes to the airwaves trying to inform the town and be a voice of reason as the town residents get uber violent and repeat the last thing they heard ad nauseum as they attack. This is the point in the film where you better put on your thinking caps. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the root of the infection is inventive and, with difficulty, MacDonald and Burgess manage to get the point across. If you are into Christopher Nolan-esque horror or thriller films, then this is for you.

Highly recommended. Luckily, a sequel is in the works.

Pontypool is available on DVD and BluRay from IFC Films. If you want to check it out, and I question your sanity if you do, use the handy dandy link to the left there and give a little something back to the Cheese.

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