The other day I was browsing through Wired as I often do and I came across the an article they have done on infection films, I have to admit bio-hazard films have always freaked me out which is why I enjoy watching them. For me zombie films are just an extension of the idea that a virus is out there and is ready to use you or just eat you up.. creepy.
So I was looking through the list and there are some goodies on there like “The Andromeda Strain“, “28 Days later“, and “12 Monkeys” (I have always loved the work of Terry Gilliam). But a few from the top I came across “Pontypool” and from the picture alone I thought I need to take a look at that.
It made another appearance in the current SFX magazine special on zombies at number 39 of their all time greatest zombie movies.. so it has to be worth a look.
Something of a surprise
Like all good zombie films it starts innocently following the journey to work of former “shock jock” Grany Mazzy. It looks like its going to be just another day for Mazzy in the backwater hole that is Pontypool but strange things are already happening but no one has caught onto it yet.
Being the grizzled zombie film watchers that I am I thought it might be interesting but didn’t hold out much hope it would be up to much, after all I have never heard of it.
As soon as I started watching I knew something about this one was going to be good, it has a great gritty feel to it and the direction and acting are excellent. Like all really good horror there is a fair dose of comedy and you get a good feeling for the characters.
All the action takes place in the basement of a church where the radio station is setup, and you only hear about what is happening outside from broken reports and odd bits of news. This only serves to highlight the problem as it is so badly defined anything could be going on.
This is where the film takes a sharp turn from the normal zombie style film and adds its own twist to the proceedings. I am not going to tell you what it is you will have to watch for that, but it is a genius and terrifying idea and one that I can’t believe hasn’t been used before (that I have seen at least).
You are probably thinking “what the hell is this idiot saying?”, cool your jets! When I say perfect I mean in terms of character development, plot, pacing. All the things that are really hard in any film. They are not the best zombie films (close) but they are get well made films that hang together well. Most zombie films have problems with gaps in the plot or slow scenes that stop the flow of the film.
Pontypool doesn’t escape these problems but they are few and far between. You can forgive any film its minor moments and its worth powering through the few slower moments to get to the reward.
Does not reward stupidity
Something I have seen more and more in recent films is a tend to make them more appealing to idiots. Why have a subtle plot when you can put it in someones face? Pontypool I’m pleased to say doesn’t do that, if you are not following what is going on then you are out of luck, and the ending is sure to leave you confused.
Worth a watch, might not buy it but if you see it cheap or on the TV it’s worth spending the time.