Movie Review: Pontypool

Pontypool is a small 2008 Canadian film that I finally caught up with on Netflix streaming. I’d heard some buzz around it the past year or so, but never got around to watching it.

My mistake.

It clocks in at an hour and thirty-six minutes, and since I hadn’t seen reviews or read much about it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a funny, suspenseful, and ultimately disturbing psychological story about a loose cannon radio talk show host who is suddenly faced with the most unusual turn of events he’d ever encounter.

Writing a review is difficult, in that, when I like a film, I want to encourage you to see it with information about it, yet not give away the bulk of the plot. Here goes: Stephen McHattie plays Grant Mazzy, a radio show host. During his show, he begins getting reports that things in the little town are getting a bit strange. Before long, it becomes obvious that a unique type of deadly virus has begun to infect people around him. The film deftly dances the plot back to the radio station until the viewer begins to glean what is happening.

McHattie makes the film. His portrayal of Mazzy is deep and believable. He feels like a real person, as do the other, less recognizable actors. And this is the secret to the film. Don’t expect the apocalypse to be this massive, CGI-laden, action-filled extravaganza. Expect it to be the loss of real people that you care about.

There is also some questions about how the virus comes to be. If you can’t figure out exactly what has happened, I suggest researching about the film’s deeper meaning. A couple minutes on the internet will add much more to your understanding and appreciation of the film.

Pontypool opened in the United States in 2009 and grossed less than $3500. That’s right. There’s something wrong in our society when a decent film can’t gross more than a used car costs. It speaks to the way we approach films as a society. We want entertainment, so the big film companies give us what they think we want and what most likely will make them money, oftentimes sans quality. If those companies took a fraction of what they would spend on the blockbuster films they invest in and use it to fund more unknown films and filmmakers, the overall quality of our entertainment would increase exponentially. Sure those films won’t make the millions the big films will probably make, but then again, maybe they should be looking at the return on investment as a baseline.

Enough of my rant. See this film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And be sure to pay attention to the opening lines, with Mazzy giving a nice overview of what is going to happen in the story. Also stick around for the end credits. Pontypool is an enigma, albeit an entertaining one.

Nine out of ten headstones, Deadies!


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