“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. The saying could be partly true for the film, Pontypool. Other than a medium for communication and conversation, language has carried something more dreadful in this film.
The film centers around the crew of a radio station who slowly discover the dreaded happenings that were occurring in their small town. It was supposed to be just another day for Grant Mazzy and his friends but soon the early morning snowstorm seems less worrisome as time goes by. While doing some news, they receive news about a riot happening in their town and they have an account given by witnesses, especially one from their own crew. They soon discover that the riot was acted upon by broken-record-slash-zombies. Things turn for the worse as these zombies start flooding their radio station and infecting one of them. Now all they have to do is figure out how to survive without turning into a zombie, a broken sound machine or both.
The film although has minimal portrayal of gore for a zombie flick, it still has its charm in the use of its lines and dialogue. For example, the first few zombie coverages of Ken Loney were chilling, it had the feel of a real account of a zombie sighting and his frantic speech to his ultimate demise leaves a lot the imagination. The most explicit scene would be the degradation of their infected friend, Laurel-Ann, displaying ample amounts of gore and soon expels a plethora of innards upon her death. The back and forth conversation between Grant and the doctor provides insight to the outbreak and gives light to the apparent cause of the zombification, the English Language.
I liked the film a lot and it gives a sense of confusion because of the premise, imagery and dialogue of the film. There’s a certain horror in the film as I seem to see that there are borders that kept getting invaded and violated. In the physical level, we always see the characters enclosed and seemingly separated from the invader but this slowly disappears as they are rampaged by zombies until they are isolated inside the sound booth, and again in the tool shed. What threatens them are kept away but nips away at the protection trying to get in, and this unnerves the characters and us as well, as we look on how they will survive in such a fragile looking enclosure. In another sense, the virus which spreads is invasive of a fact we call language. It manifests itself through babbles of infected words by the zombie. The existence of the virus is a violation of a border since in a different “space” of language, the virus cannot harm one. The presence of the language barrier suggests a border that can, yet again, be toppled but we do not see it, if the virus ever adapts. The virus can also be expelled from the person by confusing the understanding of the infected word making it incomprehensible, outside the border of understanding.
In the beginning and the end of the film, we are treated with something bizarre and confusing. It might be some kind of preparation and closure to the absurd premise of the film. After watching, I felt immense confusion but its okay because the entire film both made sense and none at all at the same time. Pontypool puts insane twists to the generic horror of the zombie.