Wednesday, March 24, 2010

shite from mah mooth.

Thanks to Jazzy Jay B. for pointing me in the direction of this effective little chiller from 'The Canada' (yes you can), can't give too much away for fear of ruining what's one of the best thrillers this side of the last one I raved about.

Pontypool (2009).
Dir: Bruce McDonald
Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Rick Roberts, Hrant Alianak, Boyd Banks, Tony Burgess and Rachel Burns (but only toast).


Cowboy hatted radio shock-jock Grant Mazzy (sterling supporting stalwart Mchattie in a main role for once) has lost his job at a big city radio station, relegated to reading local news and drinking whiskey from a church basement cum local radio station in the arse end of nowhere town of Pontypool (Ontario not Wales, tho' I don't know which would be the more frightening).

Constantly berated by his producer, Sydney Briar (Mchattie's real life wife Houle), hero worshipped by her assistant, Laurel Ann (cutesy bunny Brit-chick Reilly) and forced to pretend that the 'reporter in the field', Ken Loney (Roberts) is really in a helicopter and not a second-hand van, our beleaguered broadcaster thinks that things can't get any worse.

Pontypool: not this one.

The early morning shift begins like any other with Mazzy insulting everyone and Sydney getting defensive until that is the stations phone lines are inundated with reports of strange occurrences across the town, there's a silent protest outside the local Doctor, Jeff Mendez's (Alianak) clinic, people are beginning to talk to themselves and behave erratically and to top it all there are reports of the military attempting to quarantine the town.

Mazzy attempts to eat a miniaturised Michael Jackson.

Bemused by all this town based nonsense Mazzy continues to light heartedly report the bizarre happenings but gradually finds, in part through Loney’s 'on the spot' reports and eventually through an impromptu phone call from the BBC, that the towns folks actions are becoming more and more freakish.

And not to say violent.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

As the news gets scarier and the locals get loopier a perturbed Dr. Mendez arrives at the station looking for safe refuge and someone to spout philosophical discourse and chaos theory at.

Obviously Mazzy's the man.

As the good doctor excitedly expounds his outlandish (yet scarily believable) ideas regarding what is happening to the town of Pontypool it becomes clear that what they're dealing with is no conventional virus and, if Mendez is correct, nothing can stop the unique way it spreads.

Meanwhile in the confusion, no-one notices that yummy Laurel Ann has started rocking back and forth in a creepy manner whilst mumbling to herself in the corner...

Sydney's Popeye impression always
got a laugh (now) at office parties.

Playing out like a particularly tense (a what done it rather than who done it) stage play or the Rod Serling classic that never was, Bruce McDonald's Pontypool is a taut little gem of a movie that plays cheekily with audience expectations of the genre, twisting their cinematic knowledge to breaking point before delivering a pay off which you'll either appreciate as sheer genius or laughably ridiculous depending on the amount of brain cells you possess.

Tho' worry not, 'cause if you read this blog it'll no doubt be the former.

Taking the source novel to heart, the first forty odd minutes of the film are effectively a three hander between Mchattie, Houle and Reilly as the listen to callers on air and read aloud the local police reports, the only first hand news they trust coming from Loney's sporadic and increasingly jittery on the spot rants and raves.

The audience sees nothing of the town or the events being described for the films entire running time, forcing them to imagine their own interpretation of events as they unfold.

And this is where the film truly shines.

It's a rare thing these days to find a horror movie that leaves anything to the imagination so hats off to McDonald for treating his audience with the intelligence that most of them (well a few) deserve.

Shite in mah mooth.

The cast are perfect, especially Mchattie who imbues Mazzy with the dulcet and throaty tones of a sixty a day smoker whilst cleverly keeping the characters fucked off and angry persona just this side of lovable old git ably supported by Houle whose straight laced station manager is one of the most well rounded female characters in horror since the heady days of classic Romero.

The rest of the tiny cast, from the aforementioned Reilly to an almost pitch perfect Richard France impression from Hrant Alianak via the fantastic voice only performance of Rick Roberts are spot on for summer.

Big man hugs and much kudos to McDonald for bravely stretching the horror concept as far as it can go without it springing back all limp and lifeless like your Grans knicker elastic after a torrid OAP Christmas party.

See it, love it and thank God for low budgets.

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