Pontypool Review

8 out of 10 Skulls
Written by: jmh314   

To me, its a shame when a great horror film gets an extremely limited release and yet is better than most the mainstream horror films that hit theaters.  For whatever reason these interesting films have to wait until they hit DVD to find the majority of their audience and in the case of the film Pontypool its too bad this couldnt have gotten a wider release since it is one of the more intelligent horror films I have seen in a long time.  Its not filled with cheap scares or over the top gore, it's the wonderful story that makes you think that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Pontypool follows a radio show host named Grant and his coworkers Laurel Ann and Sydney as they begin their typical day telling the news to small town of Pontypool's radio listeners.  Unfortunately, Grant's show takes a strange twist as he begins to receive phone calls from people reporting strange behavior, people repeating words over and over, and violent riots in the streets of Pontypool.  The calls soon become more frequent and soon becomes apparent to Grant that some sort of mass outbreak it driving people insane and turning them into an angry and murderous horde. 

But what is causing this mass outbreak of hysteria?  Confined in his radio studio all Grant can do is go off the phone calls he is receiving and do his best to spread the word.  When the pieces of the puzzle start to come together and it appears words in the English language might be triggering the outbreak, how do yo stop it?  Not to mention with all the forms of communication in this electronic/digital age, the outbreak could spread like wildfire.  Since Grant cant broadcast over the radio as ever spoken word may spread the madness, he must work with Sydney and laurel Ann to find other ways to communicate and survive this surreal outbreak.

The story of Pontypool is much more indepth and also much more confusing than I have explained.  Its hard to give too many details without spoiling it and also confusing some people.  It is really a film you need to sit and take in because it's not the type of film that shows you everything thats going on.  You learn the event of the outbreak mostly through the confines of Grant's radio studio. Its a really ambitious way to tell a zombie story by keeping the characters confined in their broadcasting room but with a complex story like this, that is probably best as less is more.

Director Bruce McDonald really tells one hell of a story through the lens of his camera.  being able to convey the dread of a violent outbreak all while staying confined in a room isnt easy work but creates a very unsettling tale.  To tell a story of madness through the use of phone calls and chopper news reports seems like a tough task but McDonald accomplishes it well.  He really pushed his cast to give maximum effort to convey the story without making things too confusing and the cast responds with great performances that move the story along.

Pontypool isnt going to be a film for everyone, which is a shame.  It may very well be one of the best tales of "zombie" outbreak madness in decades, but since it takes a whole "less is more" approach it will lose some audience members.  Not everything needs to be filled with tons of cheesy jump out scares, over the top gore, and bad CGI to make a truly chilling zombie tale; Pontypool is direct proof of that.  This is a very smart horror film and I think thats why it didnt get its fair chance in theaters.  Sure it did have some jumps and thrills but the mounting tension created throughout the brilliant story is what makes the whole thing work.   Pontypool truly succeeds at telling a great story, one that will leave many people talking long after the credits roll.
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