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.