Pontypool really does “Change Everything”—as the screen-adapted version of Tony Burgess’s acclaimed novel brings the run-of-the-mill horror film junkie something totally fresh and almost entirely original to wrap their demented little minds around. Pontypool will have you feeling more than just a little uneasy and a bit skeptical of everything you were ever taught in English class. Not only is this film genuinely creepy, it’s also brilliantly shot, incredibly fun, and stunningly thought provoking. This is the kind of film that sheds so much light on low-budget filmmaking that it’s bound to open so many new doors in the world of horror cinema. Canadian horror fans will be particularly impressed at how closely Pontypool hits to home as we are forcefully submerged into the uninviting solitude of the great Canadian winter.
Pontypool follows the irreverently charismatic, Grant Mazzy, A sharp-tongued radio jockey whose last chance at employment in the radio industry is with a small-time station that operates out of the basement of the only church in the quant Canadian town of Pontypool, Ontario. Right off the bat, the location itself sets us up for the terror that awaits on the other end of the airwaves. Grant Mazzy is accompanied by his two only punctual co-workers: the head honcho, sassy Sydney Briar, and the wholesome hometown hero, Miss Lauralanne. Their day starts out as any other day would at the station: burdened by the ruthless winter forecast and few irritatingly tardy staff members. Another seemingly ordinary day takes a turn for the worst when Mazzy and Sydney begin to realize that the eerie reports that they’ve been getting from the stations weather report guy and several other of the towns folk aren’t just all part of some cleverly executed hoax.
Writer Tony Burgess cleverly utilizes what is probably the most common horror film cliché in the most original way since Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. As thought provoking of a film it really is, Pontypool will have you thinking for weeks about how human verbal interaction is becoming so narrow, so limited to the same universal words and slogans, that we truly are numbing ourselves down to such a degree that we have basically completely disregarded our own ability to express ourselves on an intellectual level. There’s no doubt that we as humans use the same phrases to express common feelings of affection, sympathy, understanding, and discontent. The premise is downright creepy when you take into consideration the reality of our own feeble-mindedness being contagious.
Good filmmaking shines brightest through a low-budget, limited set space, a talented cast, and a solid story. Director Bruce McDonald nails all of these things and so much more with his screen adaptation of Tony Burgess’s novel, Pontypool. The plot takes so well to the big screen without managing to seem too conventional. Tony Burgess” knack for telling a genuinely creepy story is dimly reminiscent of Master of the Macabre, Clive Barker’s work, in a sense that he successfully manages to take an utterly implausible idea and present it to the audience in such a way that it seems like it really could happen in the real world. Definitely not the kind of film you want to dedicate your time to if all you’re looking for is a few big explosions, some gore and a ridiculous premise, this is most definitely a thinking man’s film, one that will give movie-goers the opportunity to expand the horizons of their imaginations and really think outside the box.