June 13, 2009

DVD Review: Pontypool (2009)

Disclaimer: I rip on Canada a lot in this review, but being from Detroit, I'm practically half-Canadian, so it's alright. Carry on, eh...

Cast Members of Note- Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, and Georgina Reilly.

Pissed-off Big City DJ Grant Mazzy just got demoted. The poor guy has to move to Ontario, Canada of all places, and host their lame morning drive show; sure, the city has a cool name (Pontypool), but he's doing stories about missing cats and bingo championships, while he should be challenging the establishment with his scathing commentary!

This guy is a bad-ass, even in Ontario.
When reports of a mob of crazed people (Infected/Zombies) attacking a local hospital roll in, everything starts to go to hell. Grant, his bitchy producer, and the cute as a button tech girl are stuck in the small studio, and are the only ones who can warn the world about what's unfolding in the small Canuck town; which is that a virus is turning people into Word-Zombies, and it's all because of the English language. I cry racism!

Maybe they just want to make a request?
Will they survive? Will the Language-Zombies get into the studio and eat/talk everyone to death? Will Grant "Awesome Sauce" Mazzy get the chicks into a threesome before all hope is lost? I won't spoil what comes next for you here, but suffice it to say that the last act of the film kinda shit the bed for me. Yes, people, that means no threesome.

"Threesome, or GTFO!"
The first two thirds of Pontypool are amazing; they're so simple and minimal, that the movie sucks you in and has you feeling pretty much what the characters are... "What in the hell is happening" and "Oh shit, we're so screwed!" It really, really works... until the doctor shows up and "explains" everything. Don't get me wrong, it's still pretty good after that, but the old "less is more" adage should have been adhered to here. I guess the best part of the movie is wondering could this ever happen? No, I'm sure it couldn't, but within the world of the movie itself I was a believer, even though the whole thought of the English language being "infected" seems wholly implausible. It's all very original and engrossing, actually.

I've always liked Stephen McHattie. A History of Violence, XIII, Watchmen... hell, he even narrated BASEketball, which rocked. He's a great character actor, and does a really nice job here. In fact, he pretty much carries the movie for the most part, and he left me wanting to see more of Grant Mazzy. Lisa Houle, and Georgina Reilly were great too, I just think McHattie stole the show.

Please give us more Grant Mazzy, Mr. McHattie. Oh, and wear the hat. It's pretty cool.
As good as this movie is, it loses its steam by the time the third act rolls around. Once the Doctor gets there, it goes from tense to "Ok, I guess I can buy that explanation... I think" territory pretty quick. Had they left the cause of the outbreak a bit more ambiguous, and given us little hints some other way, it would have been far more effective.

Not even they liked the third act.
It's a tie! First, the cure; WTF?!? Again, had they left it at "don't speak or we're screwed" it would have been fine. The whole "kill is kiss" thing just didn't get it for me. Second, and possibly most lame of all, is the Doctor; he's not only annoying and poorly acted, he... ok, he's just annoying and poorly acted. The character just felt out of place to me.

Her kiss is definitely kill.
Not too much gore in this one, although there is some good stuff in a scene or two towards the middle, and the "Zombies" looked cool. Pontypool was really more of a psychological Horror flick than a slice and dice.

Kinda hot?

Anything Grant Mazzy says; his voice is just that damn lyrical.

Canada doesn't really suck; any country that can give us Glass Tiger, Hockey, Michael J. Fox, Rock n' Roll Nightmare and David Cronenberg, deserves to be loved. Mostly.

If you don't love Glass Tiger, you suck.
I'm not afraid to love Pontypool in spite of its faults; it was a well-conceived, well-made, creepy, tense movie, and even makes you think a bit. It would have easily been an "A" movie if the last part hadn't lost me just a bit, but it's still well worth seeing. Check it out on IFC In-Demand or in Theaters (limited release) now.


Pontypool is available now on DVD.


I've noticed that I fall in love far too easily lately, but just look at her, man... look at her!


  1. You apologized for ripping on Canada, and then didn't - if you're gonna promise to insult where I live, at least follow it through :D!

    I haven't seen this movie, it doesn't really sound like the sort of film I'd enjoy.

    - Zac

  2. LOL.

    I took it easier than I thought I was gonna... I just ended up liking my "being from Detroit makes me half Canadian" line, so I left it up top.

    Listen, I'm unpredictable!

  3. Just watched it. I really enjoyed it and will be ranting to a few people in work about it tonight.
    Although there is only two horror fans there. Otherwise it's the straight to dvd hoi polloi whom rent movies on the cover picture alone, have great respect for the Resident Evil movies and slag off anything different. Yep, the usual affair.

    My blood was boiling when someone whose list of horror films don't even register in my top 100 (bar The Shining) proceeds to lecture me on how crap 'Drag Me To Hell' was. From crap acting, story, special affects, overall crap. His taste in music is even worse. two words.... "Bon Jovi"

    I rest my case.