I have been intentionally avoiding all information on PONTYPOOL for almost a year, since it has been receiving an enormous amount of praise across the Horror community. Now that it is receiving a domestic release on January 28th, it will be interesting to see how the film is received by a larger audience. The first hour of the film is without a doubt one of the strongest builds I have seen in recent Horror history. It is truly captivating, and turns Orson Welles' War of the Worlds program on its head as the broadcasting team at a small Canadian radio station begins receiving what they assume are a series of prank calls regarding a zombie apocalypse occurring in the blocks surrounding the building. Unfortunately, the calls turn out to be all too real as the government becomes involved and the infected begin forcing their way into the cramped recording studio. This setting is a genius location for a small film of this nature. Though the entire film takes place in what is essentially a single room, the size and scope of the picture are dramatically expanded as callers pour in to describe the terrifying events outside. The disbelieving reactions of the staff as well as the frantic and desperate tone of the callers give each of the performances an authentic appeal, while Stephen McHattie's performance as radio jockey Grant Mazzy creates an unstoppable force on screen that instantly draws the audience into the action. What is even more impressive is that this "zombie" movie (for lack of a better term) only alludes to the violence, yet manages to captivate its audience without all of the expected gore or bloodshed. After the hour mark, however, the film enters into a cerebral sub-plot that is almost too smart for its own good. The explanation behind the origins of the virus, how it spreads, and how it can be stopped dabbles in philosophy and mental deconstructive theory, and (unfortunately) will immediately disengage many of the viewers. This theme completely ties in to the setting of the film, and is such a complex and intellectual study that will leave the audience thinking well after its conclusion. In a day and age when seemingly every possible angle of the zombie film has been made and remade, it is so refreshing to find a genuinely smart script with an original idea that is unlike anything else I have ever seen. PONTYPOOL is a winning film, and comes highly recommended!
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