Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Pontypool (2008)

Director: Bruce MacDonald
Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle

This is the first movie I've ever had to watch twice to pen down even initial thoughts on it. That is an accomplishment by itself, but this dense and stylish catacomb of insanity and wit packs more than that - it is just downright awesome. It's a zombie film that makes every other zombie film in the last few years look like kids stuff with its originality and creative scope. For one, it's almost entirely a one act play, with only a few characters who interact in subtle ways that show you their relationships with one another without actually coming out and stating it - always a sign of good writing to me, or one of them. You get to know the characters and genuinely like them, as well as being impressed by how well they're painted with the minimal background information provided. Very maturely handled.

And the story, too - people are turned into zombies by hearing words? That's so crazy that it would downright suck if a less talented team did it, but here it just works. It's made ironic by the constant stream of dialogue chucked at you even from the very beginning of the movie, which is well written (yeah, probably adapted from the book, but whatever) and consistently engaging, and I picked up on things on the second viewing that I didn't notice on the first one. This is definitely one that merits re-viewings, and I will be going back to it again in the future.

The tension is built up like a volcano about to erupt, and yet when it's still like nothing else I've ever seen. It's more of a slow burning and beautiful end than a fast, gore-streaked climax that many viewers may go in expecting, and I won't spoil any of it for you, but know this: it is as pure a cinematic gold mine as any I've seen out of my favorite movies, with intrigue and suspense and stellar writing exploding all around you - you won't know what to think, but as you think about it, the mystique of Pontypool will slowly unfold. Haunting, epochal and stirring in every way, probably the best horror movie of the decade.