Directed by Bruce McDonald
It should be no surprise that my second movie review for Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror is yet another zombie film. Anyone that knows me knows how fanatical I am about the zombie genre. For some reason, and I’m not exactly sure why, I find the living dead to be better movie-companions than vampires and werewolves…well, for the most part, anyway.
Pontypool is a smart Canadian excursion into zombie madness. Set in a small town named Pontypool (somewhere in an unnamed Canadian province), the film begins as a snowstorm is blanketing the town with several feet of snow. An ex-shock-jock DJ named Grant Mazzy arrives at work for his new gig—as a small-town, low-key DJ. Something unspoken forced him out of his previous high-brow job and into this lowly position.
But low-key is just the opposite of what this day turns out to be as reports soon begin to filter in via phone and e-mail of horrific attacks happening within the town…something is causing the citizens to go crazy and attack each other, with some of the victims being torn apart and/or eaten! The eye-in-the-sky weatherman even calls in to give play-by-play commentary on the events as they unfold.
Mazzy and his two-person radio staff are forced to isolate themselves inside the radio station. They learn that a virus of some sort is overtaking the citizens of the town, and as a result is forcing them into these brutal acts. But the town doctor arrives, seeking sanctuary after escaping a hungry mob of townsfolk, and offers a horrifying glimpse into how the virus might be spreading. And while the world outside unravels, Mazzy and his crew contemplate their very existence, wondering if survival is even worthwhile.
First off, let me say that overall, this movie is very well done. It did tend to drag in certain parts, which is not good because the movie is only 93 minutes long. But once it regained momentum, the story was off once more with a vengeance.
The unique aspect of how the virus is transmitted has, to my knowledge, not been seen before in any zombie movie. I was very impressed with the idea, although I did not like the way the doctor came to the conclusion about it so quickly. It was basically one of those “Oh, by the way, I had this brainstorm…” type of situations that have no credibility with me (or most viewers, I would imagine) and tend to take me quickly out of my reality-detachment-immersion.
The other downside to this movie is the lack of watchable zombie attacks. Many are heard over speakers or even assumed, but there are very few that are actually seen on-screen. This goes along with a general lack of gore throughout the film as well. One of the simple joys I have with zombie movies is the splatter-fest that erupts from multiple headshots. I mean, who wouldn’t like that? In this film, there are no headshots that I can recall, but there is one choice piece of gore that had me rewinding the scene to watch it over and over again; it occurs when one of the infected townspeople projectile-vomits blood and internal organs all over a window as she’s dying. It is definitely something you have to see to appreciate.
Although this is more of a psychological zombie movie than a traditional living dead scenario, it still works and is still a true credit to the genre. It is nice to see directors who are not afraid to push the limits of the zombie mythos and even create new aspects to add to it. And with a tagline like “Shut Up or Die”, this movie is definitely a positive addition to the genre.
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for PONTYPOOL
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