NNWIJ: Pontypool (2008)

Director: Bruce McDonald

Notable Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly

Rating: R

Review:  A desolate snow-filled existence in Canada?  Surely this must be a horror film.  I’ve been dying for Pontypool to get the Netflix treatment, watching it sit in limbo (my queue) for months before the company even obtained the DVD itself, so when I stumbled upon the title in my Watch Instantly New Release section, it became movie night in a hurry.  I’d heard the hype from horror fans, but luckily went in blind to the actual plot.  And oh did that help.  Pontypool is a slow burn psychological infection thriller about a local radio DJ (McHattie) who gets involved in reporting the story of his life.  His station starts to receive calls early in the morning about riots breaking out around town, and as the day wears on the callers begin describing more gruesome and disturbing details.  DJ Grant Mazzy, along with his producer and technician, stay on the air as long as possible, holding hope their transmissions can help understand the danger now haunting Pontypool, and also hopefully save the few lives left unharmed.  But slow burn is the key here.  Don’t expect an in your face outbreak/zombie carnage extravaganza with bullets flying and blood squirting.  Pontypool focuses on the unknown, as we’re left in the dark just like our characters to figure out the puzzle along with them.  Tony Burgess’ writing dared to bring originality into the infection genre, picking an obscure method of contamination.  I won’t reveal because shock will be lost, but coming from an astute watcher of horror I can say Pontypool picked my brain in the right places concerning both writing and execution.  Director McDonald also does tremendous work with Burgess’ script, getting big returns on a small budget.  All the action takes place in the radio studio, and most of it in the same room, but the detail describing outside the walls is so vivid just hearing the faint telephone voice sent chills down my spine.  Hearing victims frantically try to comprehend the mayhem around them set the scenario, and Mazzy’s reactions set the tone.  Be it fear or confusion, Mazzy dictated how the audience felt, like a horrific game of Simon Says.  McHattie’s performance is a knock-out, again distracting from the low-budget trickery Pontypool is forced to use.  Grant Mazzy was an ultra-slick and charasmatic radio host that was a lone gunman when it came to breaking information.  McHattie’s portrayal demanded attention, much like Mazzy commanded in Pontypool, and certainly livened up this one location thriller.  I recommend this more for the intelligent and patient horror fan, and not for those in search of B-Movie antics.  If you have the time, pay a nice quiet visit to Pontypool…just don’t let any of the locals know…

Netflix Rating: 4/5



About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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