Pontypool (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/10/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Hugely enjoyable, well written and intriguingly weird zombie movie with a terrific central performance from Stephen McHattie.

What's it all about?
Directed by Bruce McDonald (The Tracey Fragments) and based on the novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess, Pontypool stars Stephen McHattie as DJ Grant Mazzy, an ex-shock-jock who now works for a local station that broadcasts out of a church basement in small-town Pontypool, Ontario. One snowy morning, Grant starts getting calls from people who are under attack from hordes of zombies and it isn't long before he and his two colleagues (producer Lisa Houle and assistant Georgina Reilly) are trapped inside the basement with zombies gathering outside.

When a mysterious doctor (Hrant Alianak) makes his way into the basement, Grant and his team discover that a deadly virus is responsible for turning people into zombies. However, things get much, much worse when they realise that the virus is actually being spread by the English language and that far from broadcasting in order to help people, he may in fact be spreading the virus himself.

The Good
It's always a pleasure to see a great character actor given a terrific lead role (cf Richard Jenkins in The Visitor) and Stephen McHattie (who played the original Nite Owl in Watchmen) is wonderful as Grant, anchoring the film with a superb performance that's never less than riveting. There's also strong support from Houle and Reilly, while Alianak is suitably weird as the doctor.

The script is excellent, particularly in the second half when the dialogue gets increasingly bizarre (“For greater safety, please avoid the English language.”). Similarly, McDonald makes the most of his (for the most part) single set, heightening the claustrophobia and building an extremely tense atmosphere throughout.

The Great
The central premise is intriguingly weird, blending surrealism, suspense, zombie horror and witty wordplay while still ticking the essential gore boxes. In addition, the sound design is excellent, particularly during the phone call scenes.

Worth seeing?
Pontypool is an absolute treat, thanks to an original, offbeat premise, a clever script, great direction and a terrific central performance from Stephen McHattie. Make sure you stick around for a genuinely bonkers post-credits scene.

Film Trailer

Pontypool (15)
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Content updated: 22/07/2018 17:20

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