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Pontypool Babbles a Lot, for a Zombie Flick

"Language is a virus from outer space," William S. Burroughs once wrote. In Bruce McDonald's dull zombie movie (written by Tony Burgess, adapting his 1998 novel, Pontypool Changes Everything), the disease originates in the far less exotic Ontario hamlet of the title. Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), a grizzled DJ, and his two production assistants, Sydney and Laurel Ann (Lisa Houle and Georgina Reilly), start their morning show with weird reports of riots and cannibalism. In the officially bilingual Great White North, the English language is infected, causing Afghan war vet Laurel Ann to bleed from the mouth and hordes of zombie Canucks to descend upon the church-basement radio station as Grant and Sydney speak such horrible Franglish that surely the Bloc Québécois would do them in before the flesh-eaters. For a film about the perils of too much talk, there's quite a lot of babbling presented as profundity. The political statements in Pontypool, much like those in another recent Canadian offering, Atom Egoyan's trite terrorism hand-wringer Adoration, seem all the less provocative for appearing several years too late—McDonald's film might have had more punch if it were released when Bluetooth first rolled out.


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