Does that "joke title" even make sense? It's supposed to be like "panty line," so I took the pool out of Pontypool and changed it to line. HAHAHAHAHA. Pontypool is a Canadian horror film directed by Bruce McDonald and based off the novel, "Pontypool Changes Everything" written by Tony Burgess. While the director himself does not considered Pontypool to be "zombie" film, it is an infection film, which puts it firmly hand in hand with the zombie genre.
Either way, Pontypool is a fresh take on infection/zombie movies and while you may know a little about what drives these zombies from other sources, I will only lightly touch on the details of the actual infection itself...an infection that is somehow caused through language. This is what makes this movie so completely fascinating is the idea of using language to cause and/or spread this infection as opposed to conventional means. To create the idea of "killer language" and then set the film in a radio station where talking is the part of the job is a brilliant idea and one that also makes for a more traditional influence...seclusion. We'll get back to that later...
There are three main characters in Pontypool - Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a sort of shock-jock radio personality, who after being fired from his last job, ends up working this shitty small town gig in Pontypool, where instead of pushing peoples' buttons, he is reporting about missing cats and the weather. Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) is the radio show's producer and she is joined by Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly), who is a sort of tech girl for the station. As the morning show is trucking along, they begin to receive news reports of strange events that are happening in the small town, and over time these events escalate and get weirder and weirder, to the point that it is clear that something bad is happening. They are a morning radio show, so of course they report this news as it comes in, whether they have official word from the news wire or not.
This is one of the many things that works so well in Pontypool - the fact that, as a viewer, you only know as much as the these three characters know. Nothing more. They aren't sure what to make of these events as they are unfolding because the details are scarce and that provides a lot of slow burn tension. There are large portions of this movie, where mixed in with brilliant editing, things are so tense and completely captivating. As I was watching Pontypool, I found myself engulfed in the story, because I too wanted to know what the hell was going on outside of the secluded radio station.
Secluded radio station...always a recipe for success, when done correctly. Not once are you away from the characters in this film. Not even for a second. Only time spent outside of the radio station is time spent with Mazzy as he is heading to the station for his work day, that is all. You have no clue what the town looks like and that is a great way to let your imagination run wild as you can only guess as to what the area looks like outside of it being described as small. Only thing you know about the world outside of the station is the fact that it is very cold and just as snowy. Total seclusion. You are given free reign to come up with a million and one images as to what is happening outside - in a location that your imagination creates.
Pontypool's driving force is it's characters, as you essentially have only three characters to follow in the film (outside of a few people who pop in here and there), so strong performances are of the utmost importance here. All three actors turn in phenomenal portrayals in Pontypool with Stephen McHattie as Grant Mazzy really shining bright as the bitter radio jock. He acts as the film's narrator and while he is guiding the audience of Pontypool the town, he is also guiding the viewer of Pontypool the film, all with a voice that is tailor made for radio listening ears. Georgina Reilly as Laurel Ann also puts in a solid performance and delivers one scene soo well that it is clear she was perfect for this role. Unfortunately, details of that scene are spoilerlicious, so I will not say any more about the subject.
This is a "zombie" movie, but don't go into Pontypool and expect to see any zombie/infected action like you would with many films of this variety. There is little to no actual interaction with the antagonists in the movie. The only interaction you really have is the fear that they are able to put into the unknowing inhabitants of the radio station. Mental interaction, if you will.
I found Pontypool to be flat out fantastic and a movie that doesn't force everything that is happening down your throat. You are left to come to your own conclusions all the way and until the very end and it is a completely engaging experience throughout. Pontypool's writer, Tony Burgess also scripted the film along with director Bruce McDonald. Both were heavily inspired by Orsen Wells' classic radio broadcast of War of the Worlds and that is essentially what the film is like, a radio play. Incidentally, Pontypool was simultaneously produced as both a theatrical film and as a radio play, using the radio broadcast from the film itself. Something that I hope will be on the DVD when it comes out next January.
Don't be a fool, watch Pontypool!