What if an infection wasn't spread by usual means? What if an infection was something psychological rather than biological? What if this infection was able to disperse through language? Sound ridiculous? Kind of. But that's the ideology behind the political satire Horror film "Pontypool" and despite the ease for this film to turn bullshit at any time, it comes off as insanely smart, unique, and both endearing and completely bat shit insane. In other words, brilliant.
Grant Mazzy is a controversial and widely known radio personality, whose life and over saturated opinions has forced him to host a morning show in the small town of Pontypool in Ontario, Canada. But on one blizzard soaked Valentine's Day, the town of Pontypool is going to become the sight of a new infection. An infection that scrambles the brains of its host and forces them to further spread the infection and become violent. With only his producer and his assistant there to help in the small basement radio station, Mazzy is forced to view from an outsiders prospective one of the world's worst outbreaks that there doesn't seem to be a cure for.
The brilliance of "Pontypool" is the way that it goes about telling its story. Essentially at its core, its a zombie film without using any kind of usual type of zombie. This zombie isn't dead. It's not there to devour flesh (although that is insinuated at times here). This zombie is one of a psychological infection rather than biological. Thusly already making it unique in that sense.
But the storytelling is what makes it unique. Told through the 'news' viewpoint of a small town radio station gives this film a stand alone perspective. It's isolated in a basement and none of the action of the film happens in that area until the final act. Its like watching a zombie film through third person tales and its completely unique in that sense. The tension is held high through amazing voice acting and a stellar written script full of lofty thoughts and witty dialogue as this infection spreads through the town. The 'field reporter' character Ken is only in the film as voice and yet as he feels completely there and when shit starts to collapse around him it will freak the audience out. Its that kind of writing and direction that makes low budget Horror films like this worth every minute.
Along with the amazing voice acting goes the straight up stellar acting. Our three main characters are all stunningly good actors and through bits of the dialogue and some of Mazzy's rather infectious monologues this film is easily carried (all satire and political overtones) by them. With the high tension of the shockingly solid score and general chaos through the third person atmosphere some of the more ridiculous elements of the script and story seem perfectly fit and in place.
It's bleak out look on society and well envisioned approach to telling its tale make "Pontypool" a rabid take on the rather overdone zombie film that's not only infectious in its story but in its telling. A must see for Horror fans of all kinds. It just points out the old rule of thumb too well, 'be careful what you say'.
BONUS RANT: Not so much a rant today folks, but wait til after the credits for an odd little surrealistic moment that will leave you scratching your head for at least a few minutes. Curious to see what you guys think of it. I pulled a 'what the fuck' face for it, that's for sure.
Written By Matt Reifschneider