Very cool Canadian film that proves a big budget, splashy special gore effects and a pile of boobs is not required to make an entertaining and effective horror film.
The premise of Pontypool is very basic - it's essentially a zombie film with very few zombies. You know the drill: some sort of virus starts to infect the townspeople and they start turning into murderous and mindless killing machines. Eventually everyone in the town has "turned" except for a small group of people holed up in (insert remote and dangerously underdefended location here). In this case, it's a radio station.
Pontypool differs in that none of this is actually seen. Instead, it's described over the airwaves by the cranky morning DJ as news reports start coming in from various sources (except for actual news sources). At first, the phone calls and "eyewitness accounts" start to seem incredible - too incredible to be real. Bodies being torn apart by family members, mortally wounded zombie folk making eerie (for real) "baby sounds" into the phone, army trucks arriving in town, etc.
The film almost operates the same way that the original War of the Worlds broadcast did way back in the early part of the 20th century (that's fun to say). And while the film starts slowly (it almost has to in order to be believable) it eventually becomes very taut and tense. There are some creepy-eepy moments here, even though there is relatively few "scares" and blood. Lastly, the virus itself, how it operates, is kind of cool as well. Not to spoil anything, but it attacks people through the way they process information in their heads. It's weird, but kinda neat. In a dorky sci-fi way.
And when the scares and blood do arrive, they do so with tasteful restraint, but enough punch to really be effective. The one "gore" scene is far more effective than the thousands in Hostel or Dawn of the Dead.
Pontypool is a great movie. It's funny, clever, very smart and scary in an unconventional way. Watch it. It's been a while since a saw a film that didn't suck balls. Good job Canada.
- Complaint Dept