Infectious for a while, Pontypool's thought experiment draws on Burroughsian language virus rather than zombieflesh (though, relax, there is projectile vomiting). Stuck with actors reacting to phone calls, director Bruce McDonald tries to let Tony Burgess's script work up a lather of media/rural/urban/colonialist/claustrophobic heebie-jeebies and brain malfunction. But a nicely zigzaggy run-up of radio psych-outs only herald uneven follow-through; like an early rehearsal, you sense tensions and tempos that still need to be filled in.
If you're hooked by the admittedly fascinating idea, your intellectual buzz may well pre-game you safely through the movie's self-evidently presented verbal terror. But the degeneration and abandonment of sense should play better (cf. I Can See You for a successful ocular analogue). McHattie, with his sand-blasted sheen, is always worth looking at, like the guy at the end of the bar who you shouldn't rouse — here more likely to charm than murder you. McDonald at least makes up for his excruciating Tracey Fragments.
Opens May 29