I’m a word nut. Yes, I have favorites; every writer does, whether he or she wants to admit it or not. I’ve always been partial to “nefarious” and “apotheosis.” Conversely, I hate the word “panties.” So when a film comes along whose plot depends upon words and the impact they have on the world around them, I sit up and pay attention. Pontypool is a 2009 offering from Canada written by Tony Burgess and directed by Bruce McDonald. At times snarky, at times scary, this one is available on Netflix for streaming. Here are five reasons to sit down and watch it this weekend.
|A movie about words! YESSSSS!|
#1 – Word play
The introduction is great. Between the voice, the alliteration and the visual of the sound waves, it struck a nice note with me. I was able to get into the mood with extreme ease on this one. Bravo, McDonald. It sets up the voice work of McHattie throughout the film, which, yeah, I can listen to him talk for days. Some people just have that kind of voice. I’m lucky enough to know a few people gifted with voices like that.
#2 – The dynamic between Stephen McHattie and Lisa Houle
The power struggle between McHattie’s Grant and Houle’s Sydney is both believable and well-done. As the boss trying to rein in her unruly jockey, Houle gives a tired performance that feels lived-in. McHattie, for his part, relishes in trying to piss people off while in exile in a small town. The result is a story that feels real. Fun fact: McHattie and Houle are married in real life. You can sort of pick up on that as the movie progresses. They play well off of each other in this one.
#3 – A fresh take on the zombie genre
Okay, they’re not zombies per se, but a mindless person running around trying to rip someone to pieces with his or her teeth while repeating random phrases certainly counts in my book. I liked where it went, breaking down humanity using words to rob the victims of their mental faculties to ultimately bring them to an animalistic state. The implications of this theme speak to our need to spread our words (and therefore values) to everyone we can, which translates into the need for contact. Whether it’s spreading a disease or making a lasting emotional/intellectual connection, it works.
|On the plus side, I love the name Laurel-Ann.|
#4 – Speaking of connection…how ’bout that radio?
Let’s face it: podcasts and radio are rising in popularity. It’s a simple concept: people like the comfort of other voices, especially when they’re talking about something in which we’re interested. We like to hear others talk. This film takes that real human need – that need to connect, that need to simulate being near someone else – and manipulates it into something sinister. How awful is it to picture a world where someone would want to attack you for the mere act of speaking? In all honesty, you don’th have to go far that to imagine it.
#5 – The building of tension
This one builds tension nicely. It starts off as a semi creepy drive in the darkness with snow. Then weg get a doldrums day at work. But then we get weird reports of strange happenings around town. Then the phone calls start, complete with eye witness reports. Then the questioning of a hoax with shoddy information. Then crazed background accounts with increased intensity. All while stuck in a news station while the snow is falling outside. This one went for the angle of Welles’ The War of the Worlds quite intentionally. The result was a claustrophobic, effective story.
|This one builds tension pretty well.|
If you like horror that makes you think, check this one out. Enjoy.