Of all the movies that you have seen, this one has got to be one of the weirdest and most innovative way to make a horror story! Pontypool is 2009 psychological thriller directed by Bruce McDonald and adapted by Tony Burgess from Burgess’ novel Pontypool Changes Everything. It’s also an actual small town/village in Ontario, Canada where the story is set. The movie stars one of my favourite character actors as the lead, Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle,
Georgina Reilly & Hrant Alianak.
McHattie stars as former shock jock Grant Mazzy now living a semi-retired life in Pontypool and doing a gig as a radio announcer. One early snowny morning he drives his car in the dark and on his way is approached by a woman who rambles back his own words, startling him and disappears back into the darkness. A little taken aback, Grant drives to the radio station and joins his technical assistant Laurel-Ann Drummond and station manager Sydney Briar. They do their usual routine; Grant infuriates Sydney with his attitude & banter and Laure-Ann tries to mediate. They get a report from their weather and traffic helicopter reporter Ken Loney (actually a man on a hill with sound effects mimicking a helicopter) about a possible riot at the office of Doctor Mendez in Pontypool.
Ken describes the chaos and violence of the crowd as well as the carnage and deaths. Later he says he found the son of a well-known resident, who appears to be “infected” and rambling words to himself. Ken’s call is cut by a transmission in French, seemingly from the army, warning listeners to remain indoors, not to use terms of endearment, words and phrases that conflict, or the English language. The town is declared to be under quarantine. Soon the station is under attack from a horde of infected people but they 3 are locked in. However Laurel-Ann seems to have been infected repeating the word “miss” (which has more than one meaning) over and over, then imitates the sound of a boiling kettle, ceaselessly singing its tune. Meanwhile Dr. Mendez has evaded the crowd and entered the station and Grant, Sydney & him lock themselves in the sound booth. He explains to Grant & Sydney that it seems that a virus has found it’s way into the English language, infecting certain words, and only certain words infect certain people! Once these infected words are said and understood, the virus takes hold of the host.
Laurel-Ann starts to repeatedly bang herself against the sound-booth window and vomits a lot of blood and dies. Ken calls back but he too gets infected by the virus, getting stuck on the word sample. Soon, Dr. Mendez begins to repeat the word “breathe” but immediately begins speaking in languages other than English, which stifles, but not eliminates, the symptoms. Soon the horde break in and start attacking the booth but Grant is able to lure them away by recording himself saying “Sydney Briar is alive” and broadcasting it on a loop over the station’s outdoor loudspeaker. The mob goes outside, allowing Sydney and Grant to leave the booth. They are nearly killed when the recording fails and the mob returns, but Mendez successfully lures them away from the studio, sacrificing himself. A young girl stays behind attacks Sydney and is killed by her & Grant. Feeling guilty, Syndey starts to succumb to the word “kill”. Grant then attempts to “disinfect” Sydney by convincing her that the word “kill” now means “kiss”.
He makes her say “kill is kiss” over and over and watches as the meaning of the word changes in her brain and the symptoms subside. They kiss briefly and then the pair go on the air, spouting a series of non-contradicting and confusing phrases to help their infected listeners. However the army has decided to bomb Pontypool and the town is destroyed. But the quarantine fails and more reports of people getting infected are heard as the movie ends.
Weird little movie & book I must say. However you cannot blame the writer for being unoriginal; this is the strangest & most unique form of a ‘zombie’ like infection being spread. I’d give the movie 7 out of 10!