One of the feature films I sadly missed from the 2009 IFFB was Pontypool – a really inventive and tense film that’s part reverse “War of the Worlds” meets Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio meets an innovative take on the “stuck in the basement during the zombie apocalypse” genre. Luckily, thanks to Greencine’s deep library of titles, I was able to catch it in the comfort of my living room last night.

Set almost entirely within the confines of a small radio station studio located in a church basement in Ontario, the film revolves around Grant Mazzy, the washed up morning shock jock, Sidney, the straight shooter producer and Laurel-Ann, the young station engineer. As the morning show unfolds unconfirmed and spotty reports begin coming in about a quite unusual event in Pontypool – a riot or perhaps a cult ritual or perhaps cannibals or is it francophone terrorists – it’s difficult to tell and there’s nothing solid being reported by any external news sources. Is it a hoax? Should they venture out into the blizzard to see what’s what? Is the very fact that they’re continuing to transmit their usual brand of talk radio exacerbating the problem?

The film uses the age old truism that what you don’t see is more frightening than any image you can imagine. The scenes focusing on Mazzy’s face as the “chopper” traffic reporter gives on-scene descriptions of the supposed carnage allows the mind to conjure up it’s own image of unbridaled violence and bloody carnage. This is a film not to be missed and the best stright up horror film I’ve seen since Neil Marshall’s The Descent.

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