Pssst, want to check out Pontypool in our new look?
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Great concept with good performances and sometimes quite a lot of tension, but the nature of the plague is too inconsistent and incoherent. Also, its origin as a radio play was very obvious.
Canadian director Bruce McDonald is my guy, and I didn't even know he'd made a horror film. That film is Pontypool (it's a town in Ontario, but the nonsense wordery of it all features in the story), more or less a zombie movie seen/heard from a radio station's perspective. Based on a book, McDonald produced it both as a film and as a radio play in parallel, and you might well come out of it thinking it was more radio play than film. Very spare, a single location, and only a small number of actors, and a puzzle story unfolding through what feels more like a character study. The threat, once revealed, feels like something out of Doctor Who, an unusual take on the zombie trope, and for me at least, the protagonists' solutions worked (but prepare to by mystified by the post-credits clip, classic McDonald). In many ways this was the reverse of every McDonald film I've seen. Instead of a road movie, we're trapped in one space. Instead of rock'n'roll, it's talk radio. And instead of a raw, grainy look, it's slick and polished. What we're really left of his style is the attitude that you can do a lot with little means. He's created another offbeat film I'd like to revisit some day.
Becomes incoherent in the final third. Until then it absolutely had me riveted. Shame really.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #119 in TIFF's Top Canadian Films
This movie ranks #331 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films