Pontypool

When the news came out that there was a disturbance in Pontypool, Grant Mazzy the radio announcer, attempts to elucidate the details of the said disturbance. He talks with sources including on-scene reporter Ken Loney and tries to get the gory details of the situation. Grant, along with his co-workers Sydney and Laurel-Ann remain in the radio station when a mob tries to attack them. Dr. Mendez arrives along with the mob, and notices that Laurel-Ann has already been infected. The three – Grant, Sydney and Dr. Mendez remain in the sound-proof both to protect themselves from infection.

Dr. Mendez explains that a virus has infected the English language, and it has attached itself to certain words. When those infected words are then understood by the speaker, the person also becomes infected showing symptoms similar to that of a zombie. In looking at the movie’s elements, it follows that Pontypool falls both in the typical zombie movie and outside of it making use of a very different element – language. The monster, the “other” is not personified in the movie by any concrete being, and the horror remains hidden in mystery. People often fear the unknown, and it is this unconception that rattles the minds of the viewers. In class we talked about the monster being created by the self, coming from the familiar and becoming the unfamiliar. The movie Pontypool plays on this characteristic, using the English language as the carrier of horror – something so simple as the act of understanding led to the spread of the disease that would inevitably cause death. What then are the authors, actors and directors trying to convey in this movie? The only possibility I could think of was the endless possibilities that understanding had to offer: with proper use it could lead to building something great, with malicious intent it could lead to great destruction – something too familiar in hackers and codes.

The initial notion that I had about the objectivity of the “monster” affecting it’s prey radically changed when one of the characters, Sydney, became momentarily affected by the virus. Sydney was a woman, and the radio announcer Grant Mazzy – a man – was the one who discovered the “cure” to that affliction. They worked together and were able to remove the virus from Sydney. The act of understanding (the virus) here now gives an opportunity for salvation.Women are oftentimes the victim in horror movies, and in Pontypool it was no different. The naked woman Grant saw, Sydney, and Laurel-Ann were all women and even the child that Syndey had to kill was a girl. We can relate this to the view of the woman as the monster, the alien who’s source of power is different than that of a man’s. The identification of woman with the monster not only leaves her an outcast, but also a victim as seen in movie. Syndey’s guilt grew when she killed the zombie girl, and this led to her momentary obsession with the word “kill” which was an infected word. It was never revealed in the movie whether Sydney and Grant survived, but a short scene shown in between the credits lent more confusion to me as a viewer rather than clarity. This I think was a driving point in the movie’s plot regarding “understanding” and how it can bring both power and danger. I think the movie was very different from the other movies we’ve seen in class as it used a very unique element – language – to act as the “monster” of the film, and I found the movie itself as an abject in the horror genre.

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