04/11/2020 12:29

Film: Pontypool

Year: 2008

Director: Bruce McDonald

Writer: Tony Burgess

Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle and Georgina Reilly



This was a film that was on my list of films to check out and when I heard podcasts talking about it, it really intrigued me. I’m a fan of zombie films in general and heard that this movie had things that were very similar to them, so I wanted to give this a viewing. The synopsis actually is a radio host interprets the possible outbreak of a deadly virus which infects the small Ontario town he’s stationed in.

We start this off hearing the voice of the lead, Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) as he is telling about a missing cat named Honey. We then see him driving and it is snowing heavy out. He hears something so he pulls off to the side and there’s a strange woman at his passenger window. She is saying something that he can’t quite make out but it is unnerving.

He then gets to the radio station he works at. He is the morning host and he works along with Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) who is the main producer and Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly). I got the idea he was a big time host, but he is now at this smaller station and he’s not overly happy. He’s pretty rude if I’m going to be perfectly honest.

Things take a turn when they go to their weather man, Ken Loney (Rick Roberts) who tells them about an incident where a large group of people are outside of a doctor’s office. They’re attacking it and people are dying. They have to cut away from it and this upsets Grant.

He gets his chance when they get Ken back on the phone and then the BBC gets involved along with the military. Grant broke the story over the airwaves where people are going into a zombie like trance where they can’t speak normal and start to attack those that are not infected by this. What is wrong with them and can they survive what is happening.

Now this is a film that’s hard to recap without spoiling so I decided to go a little bit vague here. As I said, the things in this though are zombie like. The writer Tony Burgess also wrote the novel and Bruce McDonald is the director. I bring them up as they call the things in this are conversationalists. As I said, they’re definitely similar to zombies, but this has a twist that it has to do with language.

What is interesting is that we are given this story through the call-ins to this radio program. I liked this take on it as we are hearing Grant along with the two women he is working with as they’re trying to figure things out around them also getting the information out to the others. Since language has to do with the transmitting of this, I think that it makes this even better since he is literally using a forum that is only talking. It keeps this story contained for sure while also giving us a claustrophobic feel on top of it.

I’ve kind of already started going into this, but the pacing is really good here. I think it works with establishing our main three characters along with the secondary characters to build the story around them. I was watching this with my girlfriend and we both agreed that our anxiety went up with how this is presented. It is subtle though and just gets more unnerving as this group gets trapped inside the station and their program is literally drawing the infected. I want to read up more though as I’m not entirely sure I understand the ending and the virus itself I was a bit confused about still.

As for the acting though, I thought it was really good. McHattie is an actor that I’m a big fan of and I’m not sure I’ve seen him in a role that I didn’t like. I love the arrogance he brought to this character and then he gets an odd sense of journalist trying to do the right thing. Even though that thing might be what kills other people as well. Houle was also really good as his ‘rival’. They actually don’t hate each other, but they do bump heads and I think that was needed here to build tension. Reilly I also thought was solid as the one caught in the middle of the two. Roberts is solid as is Hrant Alianak as Dr. Mendez. The rest of the cast rounded this film out for what was needed.

The effects are what I’ll shift to next, which were good. We don’t really get a lot of them, but there is a sequence that involves Laurel-Ann that made me cringe. What they do with her looked quite real. The other creatures I think looked fine with them being distinct. If there’s any drawback, we don’t get a lot of interaction between them and the uninfected. I understand it isn’t that type of film though. It is shot very well for sure.

Now with that said, this is a film that I rather enjoyed quite a bit. It does really well in building tension of the mystery with what is going on. It really got my anxiety going through the pacing and the really good acting. There’s not a lot in the way of effects, but it was a film that didn’t necessarily need them. I really like the idea of this virus and how it is transmitted, even though I do have some questions still about it. I also thought the soundtrack didn’t stand out, but it fit for what was needed. I don’t necessarily know if everyone will enjoy this as much as I did. There’s not a ton in the way of action so keep that in mind. It really is more of a slow burn for sure. I would say this is a good movie for sure.


My Rating: 8.5 out of 10