• Retrospective: Pontypool (2009)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sat Apr 30 10:18:08 2016
    PONTYPOOL (2009)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    *** (out of ****)

    A zombie movie with *virtual* zombies? Interesting...
    Well, "Pontypool" isn't exactly devoid of the lumbering,
    flesh-and-blood type of living dead, but those we do actually witness are
    few and far between (and certainly not central to any intelligent zombie debate). Instead, Bruce McDonald's single-set shocker settles, with
    surprising success, on the *threat* of zombies, with the set in question a two-bit radio station that's seen better days--"CLSY 660 radio
    nowhere"--while the zombie apocalypse happens off screen and on air.
    Our host, shock jock Grant Mazzy in a fey Stetson (Stephen McHattie, plainly enjoying his day in the Canadian sun, i.e., blizzard), goes now to reporter Ken Loney broadcasting live (at least for the time being) from the Sunshine chopper, as Ken's disembodied (sic) voice describes unspeakable horror--"They're pulling two people out of a van... Oh my God... They're biting them!"
    Next, a sound byte from the BBC: "In other news, French-Canadian riot police have successfully contained the violent uprising in the small town
    in Ontario, Canada--Pontypool. Ponty. Pool." That's something of an over-embellishment, since very little information is coming out of the town itself, and there's nothing on the wire, just Grant Mazzy winging it while
    all hell breaks loose before his ears. Mazzy is tolerated--to a point--by
    his by-the-books station manager Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) and fueled by breaking updates from just-back-from-a-war-zone-herself station intern
    Laurel Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly), who catches something Mazzy says.
    It's gimmicky, but the gimmick works, mostly due to McDonald's take-no-prisoners direction, McHattie's in-our-face performance, and Tony Burgess' sly script (based on his novel) which keeps the hapless dj there, forever ad-libbing over the unsettling airwaves. Of course, Mazzy should
    just do the polite thing and "shut up or die," the film's clever tagline,
    no doubt inspired by "'Naked Lunch" scribe William S. Burroughs' frequent assertion that "language is a virus from outer space."

    David N. Butterworth

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