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A movie directed by Bruce McDonald

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Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the radio....a scary, low-budget Canadian re-invention of the zombie thriller

  • Oct 31, 2009
While broadcasting his daily show from the local radio station in the small Ontario town of Pontypool, shock jock Grant Mazzy discovers some strange things going on. As he reports on the infestation of a strange virus that leads local residents to behave violently, he comes to suspect that he is himself spreading it through his words.

Pontypool is a small and deceptively simple film, that takes place almost entirely inside a local radio studio, but manages to feel dynamic and engaging throughout. The isolation of the location suggests a central theme of the film, how easy it would be to lose contact with what's really going on for one who characteristically spins the truth, and whose contact with the world outside (at least for several hours each day) is through the medium of screened phone calls and wire reports. Until the fairly recent big budget Hollywood zombie craze, the zombie phenomenon in film almost always stood in for larger social issues, and this Canadian thriller revives that tendency. While provocative and shocking radio is often entertaining, what does it do to our psyches? What happens to culture when dangerous and sometimes outrageous ideas and interpretations of current events, intended to keep people listening to the radio, begin to be accepted and embraced as truth? Crazy ideas can, after all, spread like viruses, raising fear and paranoia and anger. There's also a distinctively Canadian theme here, suggestive of the Canadian francophone fear that the universality of the English language may corrupt culture.

Of course, what you really want from a zombie film is terror and thrills, and, at least in the latter half of the film, Pontypool delivers the goods in a mostly satisfying way. It's not a perfect film, as there are a few plot gaps and underdeveloped characters and elements and a bit of lag time and at times the modest budget shows, but on the whole this is an entertaining and provocative film, that looks good throughout and keeps you involved and guessing.

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review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    I was not aware that there was really a small town in Ontario, Canada called Pontypool until I saw the movie of the same name. There is also a Pontypool located in North Wales, but you know which one I'm talking about when I say that this is a Canadian horror film. I don't suppose the Pontypool of Ontario is very populated, although it might still be lively. It's such a tiny and seldom spoken of town that one could remember the houses and local businesses by …
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Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #29
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (, and am co-director of … more
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GRADE: A. One-of-a-kind zombie film. --Entertainment Weekly
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Director: Bruce McDonald
DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
Runtime: 96 minutes
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