Happy October, everyone! It’s the month when I try to increase the amount of posts but struggle with my stupid retail job. No matter, I definitely have an a amazing movie marathon that I’ll be posting on Halloween.
This week, I watched the 2009 Canadian zombie movie, Pontypool.
Pontypool is a small town in Ontario, Canada. Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a shock-jock who lost his last job and is slumming at a small-town radio station.
Every time I say his name I think of Mazzy Starr, so I’ll just get this out of my system now.
It’s a snowy morning and a chance encounter with a disoriented woman is bothering Mazzy. His producer, Sydney (Lisa Houle) and tech-maven, Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly) are at the station.
Strange reports start to come in from across town of people assembling outside a doctor’s office and chanting gibberish. They’re attacking each other and doing strange things like imitating windshield wipers. Mazzy tries to keep the town informed but is he inadvertently spreading this strange disease, that seems to only afflict those who understand English?
I loved this movie. It’s a zombie movie unlike any that I’ve ever seen. First, I liked the unique means of contamination, language, because how can you escape language? Plus, it was cool seeing a zombie epidemic from the very beginning from the point of view of a news-source. It’s like the beginning of Dawn of the Dead, when they’re in the newsroom. Honestly, I always wanted to see more of that part of the movie.
Stephen McHattie as Mazzy really makes the movie. His performance is enthralling and he has the face of a wizened bird that knows too much. His character seems to be based on the Don Imus shock-jock type, only Mazzy doesn’t look like an 800-year-old reanimated mummy.
The weirdest thing about this movie is how little of the zombies you see. The setting is mainly the radio station and you only really see the zombies at one point when they break the doors down and siege the sound proof booth. The movie manages to feel very tense and you care about the characters and their fates.
The camera-work is very cool. I especially loved the beginning when Mazzy is arguing with Sydney, and the camera is just spinning from person to person around the work station. There’s also a very unique moment when Mazzy is reading the names of the dead and how they died. The scene turns black-and-white and you see the characters that he’s naming.
It’s especially sad because most of the people dead were killed by their own families. It also puts a human face on the loss that you don’t really see in a zombie movie.
Another very human moment is when Sydney kills a young teenager who’s infected, Farraj. Sydney is deeply affected by this and becomes fixated on the word “kill.”
This is the first zombie movie I’ve seen that uses the word “genocide” to describe what’s happening. I’m not sure how you can apply genocide to people who aren’t in control of what they’re doing. Or, is killing the zombies an act of genocide?
Now don’t think this movie is all serious. Mazzy has a lot of one-liners and it’s fun seeing him bicker with Sydney. My personal favorite line is when Mazzy says, “What we need is a flamethrower!”
At its heart, this movie is about connections. What happens to people when you can’t tell them how you feel without hurting them? And what happens to you when you can’t connect to anyone else? I think it’s also about information and accurately portrays the fact that everyone knows your business in a small town.
This movie is a bit of a slow burn but I think it’s definitely worth seeing if you want a new take on zombies.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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