Pontypool takes the generic idea of an “infection” or “zombification” depending on which camp you subscribe to and does something unique and interesting with the story. Pontypool is a zombie flick for those who like to think.
Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a morning radio jockey hating life in a small crappy town with a stupid name. As his shift progresses strange reports begin to filter in from the community. Masses of people are gathering in odd places and exhibiting even odder behavior.
The audience has as much of a clue of what is going on as the main characters inside the radio station; which is essentially nothing but ominous, scattered, and unconfirmed reports. For not being able to tell what is going on the movie holds up well and builds suspense and dread with ease. For the first hour or so there is no blood, no guts, no anything besides the feeling of being locked in a radio station while the world around is descending into chaos. This was more frightening in a lot of ways than the normal zombie flick where the viewer is put into the action and pandemonium.
As the films slowly burns towards the finale it begins to lose some steam. When the Doctor who may or may not be responsible for the whole mess shows up out of the blue it made me chuckle a bit. What are the odds the one guy in the world with knowledge of the infection shows up? Apparently pretty good.
Above the plot and infection story line Pontypool is a character study. Stephen McHattie does an excellent job portraying the emotions one might feel in a similar situation. His voice is perfect, his attitude spot on. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy had experience in radio. He is charismatic, funny, and serious without missing a beat throughout the film. The other actors, including the Doctor and the radio producer all give solid performances that add to the suspense and realism of the film.
For the gorehounds (ME!) there is a choice scene to feast your eyes upon.
The end leaves a little to be desired as I felt like I was getting preached to during the last five minutes or so but that can be forgiven considering the rest of the film.
Pontypool is a breath of fresh air in the genre.
Snore Factor: ZZ