Pontypool, I find, is a different kind of zombie movie. For one thing, zombie movies are known for its excessive blood and violence. Pontypool is odd in this respect that it barely has any gore. The characters (or survivors) are hardly in the middle of the action. They only learn of the infection through one of their reporters. Ken describes the rioting and the odd behavior of the groups he observes, but we never see anything. So, at the beginning, Grant, Sydney, Laurel-Ann, and the viewer, are never completely sure of what’s actually happening. Almost all the violence (with the exception of the suicide of Laurel-Ann) in the film is de-emphasized – the violence of the riots is never seen and when Grant and Sydney kill the little girl, the camera diverts from the action, leaving the audience with only the sound of them beating the girl. I find that this is, well, a strange move considering its subgenre.
Another way Pontypool is odd is in the way it constructs the zombie. It returns to the roots of what a zombie actually is and focuses on that aspect. A zombie is mindless shell of its The infected didn’t turn into zombies because of a disease, magic, or even possession, but the people turned into zombies through language. When Dr. Mendez explained that he believed that the transformation was because of a language virus, I found it absurd! Having taking up various science courses I’ve learned that virii are basically microorganisms that are transmitted through contact with the virus, whether though touch, fluid exchange, or the air. To have a virus that transmitted itself when a person understands a word goes against biology itself! Not to mention the cure, which is confusing the meanings of the words.
With all the strange things in the film, it almost seems like Pontypool is trying to be incomprehensible. This is not just clear in the movie, but even in the epilogue. So, I found myself wondering, how do you interpret a movie not meant to be understood, at least in the typical sense? A line in a podcast drama (False Ending from the podcast series The Truth) made sense in this context. To paraphrase a line of one of the actors, sometimes you have to let a story be, instead of trying to make it make sense. To try to understand something is an effort to regain control. That’s why they say that the person who holds the cards controls the game, after all. As viewers, ultimately, we have the most power because (typically) we know the most and see the most, if not at the beginning or middle of the movie, at the very least at the end. Pontypool, to me, seemed to be about not analyzing things (too much), to let a story go, and to not try to take control as we always want to.