I’m a simple man, give me a single location, a bunch of zombies, and fresh ideas and I’m all set. Pontypool is a refreshing and atmospheric zombie movie coming to us from Canada. It’s actually based on a novel written by Tony Burgess, titled Pontypool Changes Everything. This gives it not just a classy vibe but also helps immensely with the dialogue and character development. To quote Futurama once again: No more cheap crack houses for me, I’m going to a crack mansion!
You could say that Pontypool is a one-man show and that one man is Stephen McHattie, who reminds me of Lance Henriksen a lot. He’s got that cool face of smooth playa who smokes and drinks a lot. The kind of guy who would survive the zombie apocalypse with a style. And his voice is just fucking perfect for this role since he’s a radio host. At this point, I should warn you not to expect your classic zombie bloodbath from this movie.
As I already mentioned, this is more of an atmospheric zombie experience, meant to be savored and enjoyed. The production values are quite high and Pontypool looks awesome despite its modest budget. These are some of the advantages of having your movie take place in a single location. Additional ones include claustrophobia and attention to detail.
Grant Mazzy is slowly making his way to the radio station where he works. And while in the bigger cities people don’t listen to the radio much, in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario this is not the case. Especially when Mazzy is at the helm channeling his inner Howard Stern. Tonight he starts his program in the usual way but soon starts getting some strange reports. Moreover, Mazzy remembers that on his way in he ran into a woman who just kept repeating the word blood over and over again.
As you can see, Pontypool feels a bit similar to Orson Welles’s infamous War of the Worlds incident. Now, I said a bit because there are a lot of original ideas here that make Pontypool stand out in the sea of indie zombie movies. They make it, along with McHattie’s stellar performance, a movie definitely worth watching. And I bet you never heard of a zombie apocalypse that started the way it starts in this movie.
We’re fed bits and pieces of information at first, not knowing what’s going on and yearning to learn more. This creates a lot of suspense and makes the running time of just over ninety minutes feel very short.
Director: Bruce McDonald
Writer: Tony Burgess
Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak, Rick Roberts
Fun Stuff: Stephen McHattie and Lisa Houle are married in real life.