Spoilers ahoy. Do yourself a favor and go watch the movie before you read this, yo.
I have glossed over this one in the past because it didn’t look terribly interesting. The Netflix description suggested it was just another zombie movie:
“Valentine’s Day is off to a bizarre start for a radio shock-jock when he runs into a crazed woman on his way to work — and that’s only the beginning. Soon, scores of other people in the small Ontario town of Pontypool start acting awfully odd.”
Now that I’ve seen it, I advise you do the same. Coming from the theater background like I do, I have a special place in my heart for well executed things that take place in one time and one space. Pontypool takes place almost exclusively in a radio station. For the first two thirds of the movie, all the action takes place outside, our characters hear about it second hand. What’s really going on? The folks in the station don’t really know.
This film really resonated in an age where news organizations are tripping over one another to report news without verifying facts. The main character DJ Grant Mazzy is reporting the story he hears without any word from the police, without seeing anything for himself. There are reports of rioting, of violence, of mobs acting aggressive. Cannibalism. On the phone they hear strange things, garbled speech, people tripping over words…
Because here’s the thing. The disease is viral. Not viral like the flu, viral like Grumpy Cat (God, I love Grumpy Cat.) The infection travels in words. Which begs the question…if this outbreak happened in a small Canadian town and the local radio station hadn’t pounced all over it…would it still have exploded the way it did?
Eventually the action comes into the station and it’s delightfully gory. We care about these characters and we find ourselves rooting for them. This is a fantastic movie, and I feel sad for you if you disregarded my spoiler note and read this post without first seeing the movie. It’s okay. It’ll still be good if you go and watch it.