Pontypool (2008)

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“A psychological thriller in which a deadly virus infects a small Ontario town.” — IMDb

I’ll cut right to the chase — I really didn’t like this movie. It just bored the hell out of me, honestly.

Grant Mazzy (played by Stephen McHattie, though I really wanted it to be Hugh Laurie), former “shock jock” turned radio announcer, has an odd experience on his way into work one morning. While in the church basement studio of the local radio station, the day just gets weirder and weirder as he, along with station manager Sydney (played by Lisa Houle) and technical assistant Laurel-Ann (played by Georgina Reilly) slowly piece together their new reality — the town is being taken over by a deadly virus that is spread by the English language.

I mean, I get it, it’s a more metaphorical and psychological premise rather than relying on gore and action. There’s no close-up shots of zombies (actually, director Bruce McDonald stresses that they are NOT zombies but in fact “conversationalists”) being speared through the head or brains splattering on the nearby walls. I don’t need blood and guts to enjoy a movie. But this was just… no. We stopped it maybe 15 minutes from the end because I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes.

“Your friend is sick. I’ve seen a lot of this lately. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s hunting us.” — Dr. Mendez

The plotline itself wasn’t lost on me. I liked the idea of the movie taking place entirely in the studio — the claustrophobic and almost surreal feeling was well done. I like the symbolism of the English language having stronger repercussions than we might like to believe. But the acting and dialogue were just stilted and awkward. Most of the interactions seemed forced and exaggerated. There were lines that just didn’t belong, and others that I felt didn’t match the mood or tone of what was going on. In order to carry a story that is as unorthodox as this, you need the chops to back it up, and I didn’t think this movie delivered.

My husband commented after that it would have been much scarier and more interesting if it had been Mazzy alone in the studio, just trying to piece together what happened on his own. I don’t think the interactions between him and Sydney or Laurel-Ann really added much, and him being solo in the movie would have added to the claustrophobic feeling in a big way. Alas! There’s apparently two sequels in the works so maybe I’ll give one of those a watch.

Rating: 2/10 | Director: Bruce McDonald | Based on a novel by: Tony Burgess | Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly

 

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