Pontypool (2008)

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Ranked #2,269
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Stephen McHattie
Stephen McHattie
Lisa Houle
Lisa Houle
Georgina Reilly
Georgina Reilly
Hrant Alianak
Hrant Alianak
Rick Roberts
Rick Roberts
Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 28, 2009
What a surprise this film was. I expected nothing from "Pontypool" and only checked it out after its Independent Spirit Awards nominations. What resulted was 90-minutes of the best horror I've seen all year, and the best horror film I've seen since "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999. Now, there are loads of people out there who will probably hate this film. They won't even consider it a horror film. But, "Pontypool" is a cerebral horror film, one that digs into your psyche and doesn't let go. If you're looking for a surplus of blood and guts and cheap scares, then this one is not for you. The words are what make this film so terrifying.

Stephen McHattie stars as Grant Mazzy, a disc jockey now working out of Pontypool, a small town in Canada besieged by the icy grips of winter. His producer, Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle), wants him to do just do what he's told and not try the old routines that might have once worked at his old job. Pretty early on the station gets a report about a mob of people descending on a doctor's office, and then more reports come in of people acting bizarre, speaking in strange languages and even biting one another. At first the station thinks its a hoax, but the more people call in and the more they hear, the more they realize it's all too real. When one of their own gets the virus that is spreading around, the team trap themselves in the soundproof recording booth with a town doctor who seems to have a slightly better grip on what is going on.

A review like this is difficult because I don't want to give too much away. But, I can say that the virus that is going around is transmitted through words; that's right -- the English language. Certain words are triggers and once you hear it and understand it, you have the virus. The virus causes the infected to speak incoherently and hunt down anyone speaking, culminating in a lot of blood and some nasty violence. It sounds strange, and it is, but it's not stranger than the idea of dead flesh re-animating and coming to kill you. The last fifteen minutes of the film deal with the duos attempts to cure the virus, but I would divulge any more details.

What makes "Pontypool" so effective is that it's a film about words being the enemy and that's really all we are given to let us know what is going on. We don't even see any supporting characters until over halfway through the film -- just the three people in the station. We hear eye witness accounts and we hear screams and strange noises -- we know something is wrong, just not exactly what. Director Bruce McDonald has masterfully constructed a story that relies on our imagination for effectiveness and I was on the edge of my seat. The thought of the English language as a weapon is very powerful.

And, yes -- there are some philosophical warnings in this film and some political statements of a very subtle nature, but they are VERY subtle. Primarily, this film is about just how much attachment we put on words and just how dangerous they really can be in the right hands. "Pontypool" is not your typical horror film and that is why I enjoyed it so damned much. It makes you think. It makes you use your head and understand what is going on and then rationalize what the characters should do. It's an experiment in modern cerebral horror and it really works. Best horror film of the year. Best horror film of the decade.

Knowing that lots of you will disagree with me, my response is -- "Fuck ya." 10/10
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 12/28/2009, 04:33 PM
Pontypool is actually about 25 minutes away from where Darrin and I live. I've heard nothing but good things about this movie. For the most part, meanie's got pretty good taste when it comes to horror movies. I think I'm going to have to try this one out now.
grain of sand #2: grain of sand - added 12/28/2009, 09:14 PM
Loved it. Some really creepy moments in this one.. 10/10
Chad #3: Chad - added 01/11/2010, 03:11 AM
I wouldn't go so far as to call it the "best horror film of the decade", but it was definitely a good one. I loved the claustrophobic setting of the film, the characters were great, and the idea.... the idea was downright brilliant. Don't miss this one. 9/10.
Mojokc #4: Mojokc - added 01/17/2010, 06:24 PM
Great movie and it scared the hell out of my wife. Thumbs up to chadders for giving me a copy.
Ginose #5: Ginose - added 01/24/2010, 07:11 PM
Pretty fuckin' awesome... bored the hell out of my lady, though. Personally I found it remarkably smart and had a good sense of pacing. Great performances ALMOST completely around the table as well. Dunno, not much I can complain about, really.
Also, shouldn't this be on a "Holiday: Valentine's Day" list? Hint-fucking-hint
Andy van Heel #6: Andy van Heel - added 03/18/2012, 04:56 AM
very intelligent en new take on the zombie genre. Some serious scary moments. Reminded me a little bit of 'The Signal'. Overall, Pontypool is a very good and intelligent zombie movie. Loved it 8/10
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