Pontypool (2008) was directed by Bruce McDonald. Written by Tony Burgess and starring Stephen McHattie (The Strain, Hellmouth, The Lizzy Borden Chronicles, 12 Monkeys, etc), Lisa Houle (no name actor), and Georgina Reilly (also not really in anything).
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
I watched this film years ago, maybe about 6 or so months after it’s release. It’s my go-to film when telling people about amazing horror that have come out. Pontypool is original for a “zombie” film. In that I’m not sure that they are even zombies persay. It is a beautifully written and well-acted allegory for how words can spread. The plot seems to be mostly contained in a radio station in Ontario, but soon after the virus spreads we are taken to the suburbs and outskirts to see how it affects the locals.
Stephen McHattie plays Grant Mazzie, the local radio DJ. He’s definitely got the persona of a shock-jock and really takes to irritating his co-workers in that style. The entire film focuses on him and the radio station. In this case the station looks to be a sound room in the middle of a warehouse, but strangely it works. Pontypool is named after the town in Ontario that the film is set in. The uniqueness of this film is in Bruce McDonald, the director of the film, has said that the victims of the virus are to be called “conversationalists,” as opposed to “zombies”. There appears to be three stages to this virus, which are displayed in the film. The first stage is the conversationalists might begin to repeat a word. The word gets stuck and usually it’s words that are terms of endearment, like sweetheart or honey. The second stage is their language becomes scrambled and they stop expressing themselves properly. The third stage is that the conversationalists become so distraught at their own condition that the only way out of the situation is to try and chew their way through the mouth of another person.
This is a powerful movie and surprisingly it deserves to be up there with the likes of Night of the Living Dead and other classics, because it sets a stage. In the film, when it is realized that the virus is spread through words, the act of silence because paramount. The film isolates the main character away from his co-workers and slowly engulfs everything around him, leaving nothing in its wake but the conversationalists.
I believe that this film is a story more about our society and our needs to express ourselves no matter the outcome. Despite our freedom of speech, sometimes we don’t realize that words can be poison and can eat through a person into their very being(soul). This film also displays how “rumors” are like viruses and can spread. To think that now with the internet and all the other means that we have available with YouTube, Tumblr, Podcasts, Vimeo, and so much more, society offers an infinite amount of options for communicating with others. If there was a virus that would spread through words, would/could it be transferred through these mediums? I surely think that it could.
The film had an small budget with only a little over 32 thousand dollars, but it gives the impact of the Blockbusters that appear now a-days. Actually I believe that this film has done way better than most of our main-stream horror that has come out since.
I give this film a full 10 bloody headphones! I truly loved this film and wish everyone would give it a chance. It’s independent and strong.