March 22, 2013


Bruce McDonald, 2008

          Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a lifer alcohol-fueled disc-jockey who drags himself into a snow-covered dreary studio to do his night shift - expecting it to be a very typical broadcast. He soon realizes the impending blizzard has also brought something else with it, a mysterious virus that has an immediate sweeping effect on the small town of Pontypool. Soon enough it makes its way to the Studio where he is left with limited resources, company, and the facts on what is causing it. His two producers, Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) and Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly) look to him for guidance, and he is left to rely on his experience and quick-wit.
          This film is rather refreshing given the already over-saturated pool of zombie films. It's a twist on the genre that I have not seen before, and was quite surprised and impressed when it revealed itself. I really liked the bleak colors used and the look of the aged studio with its paint-peeling walls and long neglected decor. McHattie and Houle really stood out in their roles. The filmmaker really played with audio which seems to be a less-traveled road where zombie film-makers tend to rely more on heavily stylized gore. There is a scene in the first act where Grant Mazzy pulls over on the side of the road after he drops his cell phone on the passenger-side floor. A woman who he believes is his daughter knocks on his door and he immediately realizes is a hallucination. As she disappears there is an ambient, repetitive voice that echoes for about 10 seconds or so. The subtlety of that moment haunted me and stuck with me more than any other single moment in the film. McDonald was able to hold onto that technique though, and it continued to play out through the rest of the film in slightly varied incarnations.
          You serve as Grant Mazzy's invisible companion over the course of the night. Grant Mazzy is lonesome yet approachable. He seems heart-torn but remains a curious intellectual. You later end up dealing with the same level of uncertainty as he is, where the frantic speculators make phone calls to the studio which ultimately turns into actual physical bodies OUTSIDE the studio doors. You need to feel comfortable with Grant Mazzy because he's all you got. And it's not so bad.

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