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27 July 2011

Pontypool (2008)

Q: What do London Lite, Empire, Sky Movies and the late News of the World all have in common?

A: They all awarded Pontypool 4 stars.

Should they open the door? Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

And there's more...

The Independent thinks Pontypool is 'terrific'. High praise indeed. Time Out rates it as 'one of the most unusual and inventive horror movies of recent years.' It was an 'official selection' at both the Edinburgh and FrightFest Film Festivals. Can it really be as good as the hype suggests?

I'll make up my own mind thank you very much...

But before I do that, I want to dispell a myth. There's a quote on the DVD cover that says: 'The best zombie film of the year.' Don't be fooled my friends... These aren't zombies. I don't know what they are, but they're not zombies.

'Zombies' attack in Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

Pontypool is set in snowy Ontario, Canadia. Most of the action occurs within the four walls of the local Pontypool radio station where ex-shock jock Grant Mazzy (played by the brilliant Stephen McHattie) has taken up residence after being fired from his previous job. He's in a sort of exile, apparently in disgrace from some faux pas or some such thing. The details of his disgrace don't really matter. What does matter is that he's a fish out of water in Pontypool as something very strange is going down.

As an aside: I used to work with a guy who was the spitting image of Stephen McHattie. He's retired now.

Grant Mazzy swigs his 'coffee'
in Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

Stephen McHattie is great! He's got one of those deep cigarettes-and-alcohol voices that just begs to be listened to. He kept me interested all the way through. Bear in mind that this is not an action thriller... Stephen's performance could easily have made or broken this film. In my opinion he made the film, and as such gets the covetted King Uke patented double-barrelled thumbs up!

Likewise, I'm going to big-up the two supporting actresses: Lisa Houle (who plays the ever calm and empathetic Sydney Briar) and Georgina Reilly (the youthful Laurel-ann Drummond). These two were equally great. The only suspect casting was Hrant Alianak as the eccentric Doctor Mendez. But I guess that even he works on a certain level, to inject a splash humour.

Sydney Briar and Laurel-ann Drummond do bandage
in Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

Talking of humour... There's plenty here. In the main, it's subtle and sneaks up on you. Stephen's facial expressions are priceless and the chemistry between him and Lisa just grows and grows as the film progresses. Watch the end credits all the way through for a cool scene with the two in. Now there's a film I'd like to see! Please can we have a Pontypool 2!

Update: Stephen and Lisa are husband and wife! That explains a lot...

The ending or the beginning?
Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

When I bought this DVD I did a little bit of homework and the reviews were consistent in as much as nobody really seemed able to explain what the film was all about. I'm not going to explain it here. Yeah I know... you think I don't understand it don't you! Well I do, I just don't want to spoil it for you...

Would I lie?

Suffice to say that it's not your usual box-office fare. It's odd and quirky and altogether quietly brilliant. Most of the action is implied; We hear reports of the unfolding disaster on phonecalls into the station. But what on Earth is actually happening? You'll be pleased to hear that it is explained and I'd strongly urge you to watch it for yourself to find out the details.

One last thing before I close off. There's this bit where our heroes are trapped in the recording booth and writing notes to each other. Stephen's is simply: "What do we do now?" You know what? That was exactly what I was thinking. At last... somebody on my wavelength!

Just what I was thinking! Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

On the Triple-B I'm going to repeat myself 8 times and then come after you. Please... buy... this... film! Yeah... and spread the message... Sydney Briar is alive!

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