Monday, February 1, 2010

Pontypool (2009)

PONTYPOOL
DIRECTED BY: BRUCE McDONALD
WRITTEN BY: TONY BURGESS
OVERALL SCORE: 7.25/10


Vulgar morning radio host, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), is unhappy working in the small town of Pontypool, in Canada. Yet one morning, a morning no different from any other, he and the skeleton crew he works with begin to take calls of mass violence occurring throughout the town. Is it just a huge prank? Or is the city of Pontypool slowly succumbing turning into a zombie-like apocalypse?

Let me just get this out there and say Pontypool is perhaps the most fun I've had watching a horror film in a long time. Finding the right balance between absurdity, hilarious, and tense, Pontypool is just pure entertainment from beginning to end. Of course it helps that, much like those experiencing the events, we spend the entire film stuck in the radio station with the cast. As they experience the varying horrors of the outside world, so do we. This ingenious use of off screen violence (though not all off screen mind you) really sets a harsh tone that carries the movie through its weaker parts.

The lead cast of Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle (show's producer), and Georgina Reilly (show's technical editor) each perform admirably, though at times their dialogue is a bit on the weak side. Yet Pontypool is really two movies in one. At the half way point, as things begin to get explained, it becomes obvious to the viewer that Pontypool is a movie that's out of its own damn mind... and I loved it. The *twist* (if you will) is one of the more creative, and I'd say absurd, of twists I've heard in a long time, and really provides a lot to the film. It adds tension to the cast, and some good laughs to the viewer. McHattie without a doubt steals the show several times over with his absurd antics, and crazed expressions (he reminds me a bit of Lance Henriksen).

Of course Pontypool does need McHattie's dynamic performance to pull it off. The show's final act is a bit too absurd in its own way, but at the same time it does fit with the twist that has been presented to us. Backed by solid direction from McDonald, this allows for Pontypool to be a refreshingly original horror film, while at the same time being enjoyable for just about any audience type.

While it's twist may be way on the absurd side, Pontypool is an awesome, and highly enjoyable small horror film, well worth the view.

5 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Now aren't ya glad I recommended it? Does it make my use of the still image on my podcast posts a little nit more clever?

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Thrilled you enjoyed it Uni! I love hearing people's reaction to the film and how much love it's getting. I really wish it had opened a bit wider (and not on the same weekend as Watchmen) but it's still getting out to people which is freaking awesome.

I think the *twist* works a little smoother over on Canadians :)

Univarn said...

@Mad It would make your podcast posts seem smarter... or more dangerous. When the zombie apoc goes down I know who I'm blaming.

@Shannon Was lots of fun, that's for sure. Perhaps it works better on Canadians, is there some social context there I'm probably unaware of?

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I said on twitter to you that I was looking forward to this and I definitely am - it sounds like a fantastic indie horror.

The 'twist' you refer to I think has been widely quoted over here and following the above comments I almost certainly think it has but I won't reveal to anyone who doesn't know.

Would be interested in what Mad Hatter and Shannon think about the potential that the film is a bit of a social commentry on an element of Canadian culture? One critic over here has certainly read it as such...

The Mad Hatter said...

@ This Time... A comment on Canadian Culture?? Now you have me curious. Care to point me towards the critic who saw it that way?

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