Lingual Claustrophobia

I have watched Pontypool before the film was assigned in class. If abjection means to be “cast-off” or to be separated, taken back and be isolated from what can be experienced, then watching Pontypool is like wearing blinders in the middle of a highway in the dead of the night: you don’t know what’s going to hit you until it’s right in front of you. Abjection is everywhere in Pontypool.

Small-town abjection: First of all, the setting of the film is in a small town in Canada. There’s nothing like abjection in a small town when it comes to horror movies. I was immediately tugged by curiosity as to what was happening everywhere else in the world. The film got its viewers stuck in Pontypool, Canada, in the middle of a blizzard, while some kind of word-virus goes around like wildfire, infecting everyone with a brain. I felt like I was literally stuck there and separated from the rest of the world. I was on the edge of my seat. I knew there was something going on, but what I knew was only limited to how far the film took me. And yet I knew that there was something big out there, I just couldn’t grasp it.

Radio station abjection: Second, the film brings viewers into a deeper trap and throws them into not only a small town, but even deeper into a single radio station; where the main characters are trapped themselves along with the viewers. The characters were only as informed as what they could hear on the radio. You can imagine how unnerving that is for people who work for a radio, a prominent source of media and current events, to only know so much about what was going on. Little by little, the plot thickens and the virus spreads even more, causing havoc even inside the station. Though they had an idea of what was going on, they were still only limited to what they could experience in their immediate area.

Virus abjection: Finally, there is the ‘word-zombie-virus’ that was the star of the show. The film was able to portray abjection in a most unexpected manner; through language. Language is supposed to be something that brings people together, but Pontypool managed flip right through it, giving the term ‘lost in translation’ a whole new, deeply chilling level. It is here that language is taken and made into something that literally separates the victim from everything, stripping him of his own capabilities and turning him into a mindless, self-destructing hunk of meat.

Much can be said about the movie Pontypool, but above all things it was able to give me such a claustrophobic experience and that just summed up the whole abjection theory for me.


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