Monday, November 22, 2010

Short Review: Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2009)

Pontypool is a cool, and refreshingly original psychological thriller from director Bruce McDonald. Adapted by Tony Burgess from his novel Pontypool Changes Everything, this is essentially a Zombie commentary. The activity takes place almost entirely within the confines a small-time radio station, which is set in the basement of an abandoned and now unused church, as the small Ontario town of Pontypool becomes infected by a spreading virus. The morning team consists of Grant Mazzy (an awesome performance from Stephen McHattie), a burnt-out former radio personality turned presenter, his producer Sydney Briar and supporting technician Laurel-Ann Drummond. As Mazzy jovially broadcasts to early-morning Pontypool, his delivery is frequently interrupted by reports flooding in about a riot nearby. The primary source is their field reported Ken Loney, who establishes that many of the citizens have formed an angry mob and begun to attack one another. It is later discovered that many of the local residents have turned into flesh-eating 'conversationalists', after a savage viral infection has been spread through the understanding of specific words in the English language. The first signs of infection are the repeating of a word, ultimately transforming into an inability to express oneself properly, finally culminating in a distraught need to chew through the mouth of another person. As details of the situation becomes revealed to Mazzy and his crew, who are still on air, they must find a way to spread the word to the surviving population, fend off a studio invasion and remain communicative amongst themselves without also falling victims. As a really intelligent premise, it's tautly constructed, and well edited. While talky, there is consistent suspense, and it is relentless and genuine. McHattie is certainly the highlight of the film, however. His ultra-cool monologues are witty and obnoxious, yet often heartfelt. He doubles at being both excited and frightened by the strange events. I loved Pontypool, it's a real surprise hit.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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