However shrewdly contrived to keep its budget low, “Pontypool,” set almost entirely in a basement radio station, is a zombie flick sans bite. Nearly an hour passes before yet another familiar slew of flesh-seeking ghouls penetrate the walls of small-town Ontario’s CLSY-AM — and, alas, go home hungry (not unlike auds). Would-be horror pic’s failure to deliver even mildly on generic conventions while talking itself to death — this in a film about the viral dangers of language — will be mistaken by some for subversion, natch, but “Pontypool” won’t make the slightest B.O. ripple regardless.
With Stephen McHattie as a cowboyish deejay better suited to an ’80s-era John Carpenter film, veteran Canuck helmer Bruce McDonald (“The Tracey Fragments”) assumes rather than cultivates the viewer’s interest in a possible deadly outbreak. Freaked-out listeners call in with vague reports of horrific activity in the titular town — enough to inspire countless shudders from the host’s producer (Lisa Houle) and young assistant (Georgina Reilly), but not nearly enough to sustain a full-length feature. Zombie subgenre’s sociopolitical import is squandered here, give or take a pretentious talk about the power of speech. Tech credits are OK.