Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sydney Briar is alive.

If I invited you to my house and told you we were going to watch a zombie flick, you'd have certain expectations, wouldn't you? No, I'm not talking about microwave popcorn and a Bossman Junior, weirdo. I'm talking about the movie itself. You'd probably be thinking of one or more of the following, right? Small group of survivors, hordes of the undead (runners or amblers) and some crazy violence, typically involving a shotgun or two. Fair enough. Well, what if I told you we were watching 2008's Pontypool? And what if I told you that it basically had none of those zombie-flick staples? You'd be pissed, wouldn't you? But what if I told you it was good? Real good. You'd be happy, huh? Yes you would. But then I'd tell you that we're totally out of popcorn and I'm not that type of guy and you'd probably leave all upset and stuff. Hmm. Sorry about that.

Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean?
Wow. Anyway, after watching a romantic comedy (see below) with my wife, I sneaked back downstairs and finished Pontypool. I had started it on Friday, but literally passed out at about the midway point. I hate to watch films in two parts, but it's either that or falling asleep during a rerun of Extreme Couponing with the wife. And let's pray that never happens.

Because I think horror is the genre that relies on the soundtrack more than anything, I decided to watch the blu-ray on my laptop with my Airwolf-style headphones on. What a difference it made.

Without giving too much away, this movie is about something very strange happening in a small, Canadian town. We don't really (or ever) see anything happen, we simply experience it real-time with a three-person crew at a dingy radio station.

Holding it all down, is the DJ, Grant Mazzy (brilliantly brought to life by Stephen McHattie). His voice is so incredibly riveting, it's hard to put into words. I loved it.

Answer most commonly given: "I want to see what he'll say next."
For the first 45 minutes or so, I was stunned. Yes, I hadn't seen anything, but it didn't matter at all. I was in the station with them. I had no idea what was happening and I was terrified. My wife interrupted me once when the traffic guy, Ken, was reporting from his hiding place and I almost snapped at her. This shit's life or death, f**k the clothes in the dryer! Intense.

But somewhere along the way - I think it was when Dr. Mendez shuffled in - it lost me. Everything is going to shit and I started to care less and less. The buildup was so good, so incredibly strong, it made the payoff feel like a mic to the junk. And the ultimate reveal made me feel like I was very, very stupid. I either didn't get it and I'm dumb, or I did get it and it's dumb. Whatever. It wasn't enough to sour how much I enjoyed the first half. Not even close. Though the scene after the credits was baffling when I needed it to be amazing.

No matter what, I want to thank my sister for this one. I'm sorry I didn't love it as much as you did, but I'm still giddy you bought it for me. Your powers are useless on me, you silly billy.


  1. If anyone is interested, here's the radio play:

    It clocks in at 57 minutes, and has a different ending. m.brown, you're right about the ending getting a bit..obtuse, as a friend of mine put it so politely, but that's what makes us all talk about it after it ends.

    Also, irrelevant, but I bought a hard cover copy of the book, and it turns out it's autographed by Tony Burgess himself. Holy cannoli!

    1. Thank you for this. I always envisoned this as being just a radio play. I can't wait to give this a listen. Several times when watching the movie I would just close my eyes and found hearing what happens was far more scarier then seeing them.

  2. Sure, it's waaaaaay after the fact, but I wanted to thank you again for this one! I've got my fingers crossed you don't waste your money on me again.

    Though I'm always curious as to what you'll come up with.