Pontypool is available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime right now. I started it on Netflix but had to switch to Amazon 1/3 of the way in because my Netflix likes to constantly time out during weird hours – my theory is Comcast’s throttling. Anyway.
THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS
- Status: Definitely Recommend
- Stars: 8/10
- Horror Category: Virus; Zombies (kind of); Government Conspiracy
- Low on Jumps and Cheap Tricks, Low on Gore, Low on Monsters
- High Originality
Somehow, somewhere, I’d read before that Pontypool was a good horror movie, so when I saw it on Netflix at 1 in the morning and realized it was in their top 20 rated horror movies I figured I should finally give it a shot. I was very pleasantly surprised, and ultimately pretty satisfied, with the film as a whole.
Pontypool demonstrates its strengths right out of the gate. Within the first 30 minutes, it’s clear that the movie’s set-up is both complex, and believable: our 3 main characters are all employees of a small-time Canadian radio station, and our primary character is a shock jock who, it seems, was fired from his previous big-time gig and is on his first day at the job in a regional station that he clearly thinks lands somewhere below his ability and grade. This is all relayed over time, accumulated through dialogue that manages to never come across as overly or obviously expository, or even clumsy, which I find to be a very solid indication of overall script (and usually plot) quality. The seeds of our horror mystery are planted when the station’s satellite air-and-traffic reporter frantically conveys his live, eye-witness account of a violent and disturbing mob tearing apart a medical clinic less than 5 km from the broadcasting station.
Unfortunately, I admit the movie falls apart a little as it approaches the end. Pontypool falls victim to a not-unsurprising turn of imperfect storytelling (despite said story’s overall quality generally surpassing the mass-market horror crud of today/everyday): basically, the script creators clearly had a very detailed and well-realized initial idea which, during the first act, they were able to convey subtly and with grace. However, once they got about halfway or 2/3s in the story, their reasoning got a little lost.
As a result, we get an interesting virus with an almost-incomprehensible and certainly belief-stretching method of contagion, and the discovered “cure” or at least countermeasure is not only difficult to follow but leaves the audience a little disappointed. However, all in all, it’s a movie, it’s a horror movie on top of that, what I’d say is we’re basically doing way better than okay for the standard fare of the genre.
So, Pontypool? Totally watch it. It will keep you hooked to the screen, not only due to quality acting and script, but out of interest and wondering what comes next – that originality which is so often lacking in mass horror. 8/10, would recommend.