Drag Me To Hell

drag_me_to_hellrating-1.0Remember the one where the guy crosses the gypsy and gets cursed, horrible shit happening to him throughout the stupid fucking movie, labelled inappropriately as "horror", as the gypsy's curse wreaks havoc across his life? Yeah, I didn't watch Thinner either, but it was a roundly stupid idea, even for a fucking Stephen King adaptation.

You, like I, probably said to yourself "The day of the gypsy movie, much less the idea of gypsy curses in movies, is over and we'll never have to see this shit again." Apparently Sam Raimi, hack douchefuck that he is, didn't get the memo. Floating on all the undeserved credit of nerd love for the mediocre old saws, the Evil Dead movies, and the bland and ever-more-stupid Spider-Man films which were ruined under his watch, Raimi is allowed to make pretty much whatever he wants. For the longest time, that was restricted to producing endless and dull dimly-lit and heavily-filtered Japanese horror remakes. But, now, Raimi sticks his own toe into the fecal waters that pour forth from his ample theatrical bowels.

I will spare you all of the usual paid reviewer witticisms. "This movie drags the viewer to hell." "When you see Drag Me To Hell, you're asking for it!" Thanks, failed journalism major. I'll stick to the pertinent details and leave the shitty, inept stand-up comedy routine to Dane Cook.

Written by Sam and his untalented co-writer/brother/quack doctor, Ivan Raimi, who was partially responsible for the suck-ness of Darkman, Army Of Darkness, and the Spider-Man movies (particularly Spider-Man 3, which he actually got full credit for), Drag Me To Hell is one of the most awful, badly-written movies in contemporary history, especially to come out of the conventional studio system and not just be some 14th-rate slasher movie made for $6,000 by a bunch of kids with delusions of grandeur. No, this load of unwanted horseshit and slapstick absurdity was wrung from the world of high-budget film and well-known actors.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Justin Long, Apple's prime cocksucker, shits up the screen in this movie, as it is his wont in life to be the Poor Man's LeBeouf of the "mediocre theatrical release" world. Alison Lohman delivers the first majorly disappointing role of her career, apparently taking all her acting cues from Long's rucksack of blank stares and stupid faces. Though she's been good in many other films, Lohman's acting chops are incredibly weak, as is her character, in this particular lark. She was apparently no match for the list of indignities thrust upon her and her wide-eyes and blank look do little to pass for acting, though little about this movie is passable enough to force even her bad acting into perspective.

In what is supposed to be a morality tale, Lohman, the world's most inept and spineless loan officer, chooses to do her job properly and deny charity to an exceptionally gross, cranky, and unpleasant old cunt who can't pay her bills, despite the fact that she has a truckload of family members whom we see later, none of whom could have apparently helped the old whore. But she's a gypsy and, as we all know, they're gross, antiquated, thieving scumbags. The skank makes a huge scene and fondles Lohman while pleading to save her home and Lohman has her ejected from the bank, as any sane person would. The gypsy blames the girl for "shaming" her and curses her, then stalks her and attacks her in the parking garage, where a slapstick-y scene of violence insues, including the woman's false teeth popping out and the toothless old hag gumming on Lohman's chin for long, uncomfortable moments. The fact of the matter is that this movie (or Sam Raimi) has far too deep of a fascination with bodily fluids, as saliva and phlegm and many other grotesqueries fly around with abandon, coating everyone and everything. After the fight, the woman puts a proper gypsy curse on the silly girl, who has days to live before some bullshit goat-headed demon drags her away to hell. (I thought the curse was the fact that Lohman was forced to be in this piece of shit in the first place.)  Oh, did I mention that the demon is invisible? Invisible monsters are always fun, in that they aren't at all. I'm pretty sure we got enough of that bullshit all the way back in the 1950's heyday of fishing line and invisible creatures/people chosen for the plot because it could be filmed for virtually nothing. It's a big, stupid, hacky cheat and nothing vaguely interesting or frightening is seen for the whole movie. Or even unseen. It would have made sense if Raimi made the movie himself on a shoestring, but this was well-financed and filled with CGI. Why the invisible monster? Instead, your audience is paying to watch a shadow outside a door or window for an hour and a half.

Remember the scene in Evil Dead II where the weird noises spiraled around the room as Ash stood and listened, staring at the walls? Did you ever want to see a movie where that scene lasted an hour? Well, Drag Me To Hell is that movie. Almost every shot in the last two thirds of the film is Lohman staring at a wall, window or door as she listens for sounds and nothing happens. The shots grow stupidly, comically long, like a bad parody of The Grudge films. Just shots of doors and staring faces that last for minutes at a time while you watch absolutely nothing of interest happen. I'm sure it's everyone's dream film. I know you're rushing to your Netflix queue or whatever it is that you kids do these days.

The old woman dies after cursing the girl, so she can't lift the curse, not that she would, being an evil gypsy and all, so poor Allison is stuck going through the third-rate Final Destination "let's figure out how this supernatural bullshit works" plotline. I'll save you a large amount of your precious time by telling you that every character is tedious, nothing happens, no one does anything vaguely intelligent, there's a weak-ass seance scene (another thing moviegoers have been longing for all these years), Lohman tries to pass the curse back off onto the dead gypsy, and the ending features a "twist" where Justin Long inadvertantly helps his girlfriend stay cursed and she's dragged off to hell, as implied in the title. Oops, "spoiler alert". If I ruined the movie for you, good. The movie ruined more for me than that, so I'm saving you. You should be thanking me, you fucking ingrate.

It's clear from the writing of the movie that it was never salvagable; one viewing and this much is assured to be true. (And it makes a lot of sense why this idea sat on Raimi's shelf, unused, for over a decade.) But the direction does nothing at all to steer it toward being intelligible, watchable, or passable as a film. The shitty shots of nothing, the scatalogical nature of the story combined with the abject stupidity of a gypsy curse plotline, the idiotic slapstick scenes that Raimi claims are "dark comedy" (only "dark" or "comedy" under the definitions of a Three Stooges admirer of Raimi's caliber); all these elements are the hot mayonaisse and old, uncooked pork that you're asked to choke down and be happy about.

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Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

transformers2rating-1.5If Transformers is an egregious piece of shit, which I believe we all know it is, then Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is the strange and frightening pervert fetishist who masturbates to internet videos of that piece of shit. Whatever the first film did badly, the second film endeavors to do at an alarmingly worse level.

The first movie, the victim of awful over-direction, bad concepts, and one of the worst scripts in the history of time, is somehow made even worse in this limp sub-adaptation. Whatever charm the first film had before the robots started talking and journeying into comic relief, or whatever internal logic the first movie had in its incomprehensible, fucktarded "vending machines turn into killer robots with missile launchers"... Well, those things are trod upon, heavily, by the second movie. "We can rebuild it," they say. "We can make it dumber, louder, more abrasive." And, hence, they do.

Uncomfortable moments of sneaking 30-foot robots and mechanical urination jokes turn into characters whose only purpose is to be offensive and unfunny. A set of minstrel show-like twin robots who would serve no conceivable purpose in a war (and look surprisingly like the retarded gremlin in Gremlins 2) are dead weight around the plot's neck for most of the movie. Because who would you leave to protect someone if not a couple of brain damaged idiots with no fighting skills?

And whatever you thought of the first movie's "plot" about the MacGuffin... oh, I mean Cube... and its ability to turn inanimate objects into cutesy death robots, well, this movie doesn't even have that level of class. It's just a big MMA brawl between robots that you can't tell apart. And you can never even quite tell what's going on, as the robots are too detailed to comprehend what they look like when they're standing completely still and, when they're moving, you might as well just be watching footage of cars crashing into each other through a telescope.

Aside from these banal upgrades to the first movie, there's something inherently wrong with the fact that several of the robots in the first film were killed in a matter of seconds by Optimus Prime or Megatron, no hope for their survival whatsoever. Yet in this piece of trash, robots are torn limb from limb and blithely stick their appendages  back on after the fight's over, almost no real sense of danger for good guy or bad guy, as Starscream, the revived Megatron, Optimus Prime, everyone, takes massive damage that would have laid them dead in the first film and just shrug it off, destroying whatever sense of deadly combat the movies had (which was very little to begin with).

They manage to wedge most the first film's actors back in. No, not the useful people, like Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson and Rachael Taylor. No, we get back LaBeouf and Fox, of course, along with the Witwicky family, who appear in far too much of the movie for no good reason, other than to provide more comic relief, as apparently the Transformers franchise is nothing if not a vehicle for endless slapstick jokes. John Tuturro comes back to piss on his career some more, but actually has more to do in this film and comes off better than he did in the first, not that this is saying much. And the soldiers, as it isn't a Bay film without military fetishism, return, despite the fact that they were the most hollow, pointless part of the first movie. So, now, for some unknown reason the Autobots are aligned with the U.S. government and work as a team to fight the Decepticons, despite the fact that the only purpose the military serves is to scream, run, get blown up, and die at the hands of said Decepticons. And, then, the bureaucrats get involved, as they always do in these badly-written pieces of shit, and the President flexes his authority to kick the Autobots off the planet because, well, apparently the U.S. is in charge of the Earth. Be sure to alert all the other countries in the world that we get to make the rules for all alien relations in the future and can say when they're no longer wanted on our globe, no matter how easily they could just topple our government and kill us all. Because we called  both "dibs" and "shotgun". No backsies. So we make the rules.

Add to this robots that can turn into people (why didn't they just send those from the beginning to get the damned cube and skip the ones that turn into cars and planes?), tiny robots doing stupid bullshit (including the humping of legs), and a geriatric Jetfire, who talks like a pirate, has a metal beard and causes everyone that remembers the Robotech rip-off that was the Jetfire of the 80's to sigh and shake their heads while Shia and Megan go on what is basically a big, retarded video game keyhunt to bring back Optimus Prime from the dead so he can magically defeat The Fallen, a generic but powerful pharaoh-looking robot, despite the fact that Optimus got his ass thoroughly kicked by three much weaker foes earlier in the film. But, we find out, Transformers can magically take the body parts of their dead friends and foes and reconstruct themselves into super-Transformers. I guess they just pulled that out of their asses when they got to the last 20 pages of the script and realized they had no ending.

You'll notice I'm not really telling you anything about the actual plot, because there isn't really much one to speak of. Oh, it's not as confusing as many critics and reviewers made it out to be. It's just pointless and hollow. And here's the ultimate dirty secret that no one else is telling you: the movie is fucking boring. Despite the fact that the movie is nothing more than a 2 1/2 hour fight scene or a commercial for Ford and penis enlargement pills, everything that happens feels flat and soulless. I found myself bored out of my mind, waiting for the ending by an hour in. Of course, up to that point, I had only been disgusted and angry that I was watching such a foul and absurd abortion of a film, devoid of anything close to plot, character, or substance that didn't seem somehow less impressive than a terribly-written 1980's children's cartoon that I found embarassing by the age of 10.

I suppose the movie looks good, though if you spend hundreds of millions of dollars filming it, I can't imagine it'll look like shit. It is, of course, buried in cliches, visually incomprehensible in its constant explosions and wrestling, gunfighting Erector sets, and is swathed in annoyingly long sections of slow-motion. Never has more happened on film that you cared less about.

The acting isn't worth mentioning, as nothing being delivered is worthwhile, therefore it's almost impossible to judge by any standard that wouldn't have you condemn everyone involved to immediate death. I must credit Megan Fox with being right about this wretched pile of shit, despite her lambasting by the nerd backlash and Michael Bay's filmmaking fuckbuddies. Everything Bay touches is perverted and grotesque and I'm left to wish he'd rape a young girl (if he hasn't already) and have to flee the country to avoid extradition for a few decades.

And the script... Oh, that script. If you told me it was actually written down on paper, I almost wouldn't believe you. Surely they just made it up as they went along, in between shooting scenes of explosions, before coating everything in a sheen of CGI robot cum. But, no, the constant ruiners of film, Orci and Kurtzman, who wrote the shit that was Mission: Impossible III, The Legend Of Zorro, Transformers and "Fringe", are yet again responsible for this inane foray into vapid pointlessness. I should point out that their script for Star Trek wasn't even particularly good and the only reason that film worked was the earnest work of the actors, definitely not the hodgepodge of confusing bullshit that they called a story. I think it'd be in everyone's best interest if we run Orci & Kurtzman out of the fucking movie industry on a rail. Or perhaps hang them both. I'm not picky. Anything that prevents us from watching another one of these neon abortions that looks like a child banging their toys together while a gas station explodes in the background.

Watch only in the case of needed self-loathing.

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I Know Who Killed Me

i_knowrating-2.5My eyes blistered and the sound of my own screams, so distant to me, tore at my sanity and burst my eardrums as Lindsay Lohan's shrieking face and be-speckled vagina filled my television and destroyed my faith in any beauty that could possibly exist in the world.

I had knd of hoped I could begin my review with something like that, but, unfortunately, I Know Who Killed Mewas not the unmitigated disaster that had been reported by the film-reviewing media and the tool(s) that give out Razzie awards to decently-made but not-very-good mainstream movies every year instead of really terrible films that no one has heard of.

I Know Who Killed Me is the tale of a serial killer, removing appendages from young girls and leaving them to die. A high school girl named Aubrey, played by Lohan, is torn away from her blandly idyllic life in New Salem, writing and playing piano between chaste bouts of canoodling with her football player boyfriend, by said serial killer. And so begins a story that is either a psychological thriller, mystery, adult fairy tale, or complex hallucinatory mindfuck, depending on how the viewer chooses to read it. The critics seem to have chosen "crap", but I like to take the higher road and say that it was a flawed but intriguing film.

Lohan's body is found, damaged, on a roadside and her hand and leg are amputated. She awakens to her parents, claiming she doesn't know them and isn't their daughter. Not an amnesiac, she claims to be an entirely different girl, named Dakota. Dakota goes along with things as much as possible while maintaining her distrustful "world-weary tough girl" persona and begins to investigate her doppelganger's disappearance while staying with her alleged parents.

The mystery continues, leaving you unsure for much of the movie whether Lohan is crazy, making it up, dreaming, dead, or otherwise. The ending will bring finality to the question with either a mental shrug, anger, or a smirk at some level of cleverness on the filmmakers' parts.

The direction from Chris Sivertson is surprisingly interesting. Sivertson took the visual tack of washing everything in the film in either a blue or red light. Dakota's tawdry stripper life is washed in a deep, burnt-out red; Aubrey's life is filled with a soft blue light and objects. Certain scenes are lit by police lights, flashing blue and red across faces. Dakota and Aubrey's respective wardrobes consist almost entirely of their single color. It makes for a visually interesting movie and shows how lazy, hackish and retarded the Razzies are, yet again. For someone that worked with untalented assclown Lucky McKee, I was surprised that the direction showed so much visual grit and excellent use of color.

Also a major surprise was the heavy layer of gore the movie featured. I never would have imagined that a film like this would have had such a viciously dark streak to it, but some of the more brutal events are a bit of a shock based on the limited advertising of the movie.

The acting wasn't bad, overall, and I was reminded why I liked Lohan so much in films like Mean Girls. Aside from being tabloid fodder and yet another sad case of a starlet, unable to cope normally with her existence and abrupt stardom, there is something genuine and enjoyable about Lindsay Lohan. If she made more films with a bit of edge (and hopefully better than this) and took better care of herself, she'd still be a name to watch instead of a Hollywood joke. The other principle actors, like Neal McDonough and Julia Ormond, all do a good job with what they're given, but it's mainly Lindsay's show.

The big flaw in the whole thing is the script. While intriguing, you have to wonder what the original plan was, as this couldn't have been what was originally set to paper. Though it doesn't make much sense, it still isn't bad. It's just not really good at all, either. The visuals are forced to make up for a spotty but interesting story that mainly keeps us involved through the question of whether anything in the film is real or if Dakota/Aubrey is insane or still being tortured outside of the dream that is the movie. The real answer is strange, unexpected and probably not as compelling, but it gets points for being unpredictable. Though crazy, left-field ideas are always unpredictable.

While the movie is and was unsatisfactory to many, I feel that it's unfair to lump it in with other, meritless disasters of film-making. The movie is worth a viewing, at very least for some interesting turns and an impressive visual pallette that breaks from the modern mold of the typical horror film, be it Japanese movie remake or gory splatter film. Hopefully the film didn't kill Lohan's career, or the director's for that matter.

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Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li

street_fighterrating-2.0There was no way that a good movie could be made from the Street Fighter franchise. The very concept of a Street Fighter movie stands in antithesis of the games. How does one make a film from a concept that features nothing more than two people with irrelevant motives punching each other into unconsciousness in a no-hold-barred fighting competition? The canvas is bare, obviously, and you can fill those gaps with any manner of things, but why? And won't the details that surround the concept ultimately corrupt and overpower the idea of people duking it out in some street competition for some ultimate prize?

That aside, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li takes the different approach of ostensibly attempting to focus on a single character's plot line instead of trying to turn the entire game into a single movie. Unfortunately, Street Fighter still doesn't have the script to pull off the feat.

First off, some might be put off by the choice of "Smallville" actress Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li. And while she comes across as very young, much younger than she is, she actually does a surprisingly good job, particularly in the fight scenes, where I would have assumed she would be totally out of her league. Instead, she shows a great ability to act through the fight choreography and bring intense emotion to her fight scenes.

The rest of the cast is a mixed bag, all good actors, but, just like Kreuk to a lesser degree, all of their performances are dragged down by the terrible script. Before I attempt to point out any of the acting flaws, it'd probably be helpful to run down the plot so you understand the mess these actors have gotten into.

We meet Chun-Li in Hong Kong as a child, an aspiring piano virtuoso whose Asian father is some sort of rich business type, the importance of whom we never have adequately explained during the course of the film. Along comes veteran character actor Neal McDonough as Bison, who, along with his henchman Balrog (played by Michael Clarke Duncan), kidnaps Chun-Li's father under the threat of murdering his family if he doesn't cooperate. A decade passes and Chun-Li the piano student is nudged along by the receipt of a mysterious, ancient scroll and cancer-related death of her Caucasian mother to search out a path in the world. The scroll supposedly relates to some thug turned good-guy martial artist named Gen, who resides in Bangkok. So Chun-Li heads off to Thailand on her own, living on the streets, for no conceivably good reason other than that she thinks Gen has already been watching her.

Meanwhile we're embroiled in the subplots of Bison, who has taken over all the various ethnic crime families that supposedly run Bangkok or elsewhere by having Vega murder them all then consolidating their power into his Shadaloo business organization, and the cops, Bangkok organized crime police detective Maya Sunee (played by Moon Bloodgood) and Interpol agent Charlie Nash (played by Chris Klein), investigating Bison and Shadaloo.

The police subplot is more or less a waste of everyone's time, but it works as filler in Chun-Li's bland and predictable hero quest. Moon Bloodgood is more or less wasted as Sunee, not to mention that there's nothing vaguely Thai about her, and Chris Klein, though enjoyable in Just Friends, chews the scenery with reckless abandon and more or less delivers the worst performance in Street Fighter.

Back on the streets of Bangkok, Chun-Li is still wading through the bullshit of the "when Gen wants to be found, he'll find you" school of plot resolution and is mainly spending her time trying to find food and shelter and stay alive. Finally, she stands up to defend a downtrodden person, as is foreshadowed twice earlier in the film, and, as expected, that's when Gen finally takes her in and explains to her that Bison has her father, he used to work with Bison until he grew a conscience, and that he'll help her save her father as soon as she's worked out her issues and has gotten the appropriate level of Karate Kid-type training, including shooting fireballs from her hands.

From here on out, it becomes a series of moronic set-pieces that involve martial arts fights between Gen, Chun-Li and random baddies and gunfights between Sunee and Nash and more random baddies. The criminals are being all criminal-y in anticipation of some sort of special shipment and our heroes are damned determined to stop that shipment, catch Bison red-handed, or just get Chun-Li's father back. Which she doesn't manage to do in the course of the movie, anyway, I guess giving her the motivation to continue her Street Fighter-like ways after the thing is over.

Now, to spoil a movie that can't really be spoiled, this is where we find out that Bison is the child of Irish missionaries, an orphan growing up on the Bangkok streets, who eventually sacrifices his pregnant bride in a magic cave for dark power and to put his conscience and good side into his baby, which he rips from the mother's stomach. Yes, it's as stupid as it sounds. So, by giving up his wife, he gets to kick ass at martial arts and, most importantly, put his conscience into his daughter... who then turns out to be the cargo being snuck from Russia into Bangkok that everyone's so hot to catch him with. Confused? Wondering how any of that makes sense? Don't bother thinking about it.

So, it all comes down to a big fight at Bison's house between Gen, Chun-Li, and Nash and all those Shadaloo assholes. And Chun-Li snaps Bison's neck and his daughter gets "rescued" after being totally non-plussed to watch her deadbeat murderer dad get killed in front of her by strangers.

So, the acting... McDonough, an American, is tasked with doing the usual overacting "bad guy" role, all while trying out a tragic Irish accent. His parents were Irish. But then you have to ask: if he's a fucking orphan, raised on the streets in Thailand, why does he have an Irish accent? And why isn't he Russian? Wasn't Bison an uber-Soviet-type character in the game?

Michael Clarke Duncan is wasted as Balrog, but at least physically convincing. Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas is in there for no reason as Vega, seemingly appearing just to have Vega in the movie. And why all the villains anyway? Why kill off the whole bad guy section of the Street Fighter retinue if they wanted to make more movies and even made reference to the next film, involving Gen going to Japan to recruit Ryu, at the movie's end?

The script woes, inconsistencies, and casting issues aside, the movie has a look and tone that reminds me of Ballistic: Echs vs. Sever, a movie I actually enjoyed much more than Street Fighter. It probably says a lot that they spent $50 million on such a mediocre film and it says even more that they only made $10 million back. It's substantially lame and amateurish while looking generically decent, like every other $30+ million on the planet. It's an embarrassment to everyone who made it for its sheer lack of ambition and noteworthy qualities.

Despite some awkward moments, Kreuk actually comes out none the worse for wear and I have more respect for her than I ever did before. I wouldn't mind seeing her in something very non-Street-Fighter-related. Moon Bloodgood also walks away clean, because, well, I'd forgive her of infanticide with a side order of ethnic cleansing, and she's barely in the movie to begin with. The only thing I'll probably take away from the film, in the end, is how damned good Moon Bloodgood looks.

Ultimately, almost anyone could have written a better movie, though I'm not sure Street Fighter, as a concept, deserves any better than this. Hopefully we can put the whole thing to bed and pretend it never happened, the Street Fighter concept along with it.

imdb   amazon


pontypoolrating-4.0It's nice to see some fresh blood flow into the old hum-drum school that is the horror movie genre. The dividing lines are strong and the camps are very unsubtly seperated: horror movies are the same old slasher and monster bullshit, by and for the gorehounds, with buckets of blood being dumped all over the usual suspects and thrillers are more psychological in nature, suspense and story-driven, and thoughtful in all the way horror films are not. Rarely do the movies deviate from their paths.

Pontypool is high-minded horror as well as a taunt and suspenseful thriller carried by the notions of the horror genre, the all-too-tired zombie film remade into something very subtle and very cerebral.

The setup (and the film itself, for that matter) is very simple: a talk radio DJ, exiled to rural Ontario, comes in on Valentine's Day in the midst of a snowstorm and goes on air only to find that the city around him has descended into chaos as some incomprehensible plague begins to spread offscreen. And this is none of the typical, overused crap that passes for zombie apocalypses. This is a whole new breed; cannibal madmen spouting gibberish, infected by the use of language. Hard to explain and something you should really see to appreciate and understand, particularly without spoiling the fashion in which the film plays out.

This is not to say that the details themselves make up the body of the film. I could explain all the particulars and it still wouldn't ruin the experience of watching this character drama play out in the tight confines of a disused church basement radio station and, particularly, the sound booth at its center, from which our lead, Stephen McHattie, delivers the day's news, weather, sports and other sundry gossip for the small town of Pontypool.

It has been mentioned in interviews that the script-writing and filmmaking of Pontypool have drawn inspiration from the nigh-legendary Orson Welles "War Of The Worlds" radio broadcast and you can feel this throughout the film. Almost all action happens off-screen and most of the experiences of the movie are gathered through listening to people's voices and words, well-chosen for the subject matter. You could close your eyes and just listen to the film and very few events would be lost from your understanding. The first 40 minutes could easily stand as a radio play and the whole movie could be performed on stage, never leaving the confines of the church building/radio station.

Bruce McDonald, an accomplished director best known for Hard Core Logo, keeps the film simple but the look of the movie is elegant and every shot is well-composed, particularly the often eerie cut-aways to still scenes that make you fear some sudden surprise to come. McDonald shepherded along this film, adapted by his friend Tony Burgess from his own novel, Pontypool Changes Everything, and you can feel it in the movie; a labor of love is not often the environment of an ostensible zombie movie, even one raised to the rarified atmosphere of something as intelligent as Pontypool.

Though this minor Canadian film has the cachet and feel of a small independant movie, it manages all the qualities of a well-funded and financed picture from one of the smaller studios that churn out the majority of the yearly horror output in theaters. The cast are top-notch actors; not a rank amateur or friend of the director in the mix to make it feel like a student prodcution. The writing, while possibly slightly obtuse for the casual audience, is smart and keeps you straining to hear the next words, something absolutely necessary in a film that mainly plays out through listening to others' voices. Aside from perhaps a lack of striking eventfulness or shocking revelations in this movie, it is a perfectly made and performed exercise in filmmaking prowess. Anyone with an appreciation for a complex and thrilling work that hinges largely on what is said more than what is shown should be delighted to indulge their mind with Pontypool, which is anything but the norm for horrors or thrillers. And that's a damned good thing.

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