Pontypool is quite possibly the most ambitious horror film I’ve seen in a while, with regards to the “monster” of the film. I don’t quite know what to peg this film as, if we’re going to get specific. I suppose the closest thing we can call it is that it’s something of a zombie film, in that people get “infected” and infect other people. Only, this form of infection is different from everything else done before. Unlike practically every other zombie film where the infection is simply transferred through bodily fluids, and perpetuated by some mutant disease (the perfect example being 28 Days Later) in Pontypool, the infection is caught through words. Yes, that’s right, the invisible, intangible, but very much real force that is language.
Allow me to digress for a second to touch on two things I found quite funny in the film. First was that the main characters worked in a radio station, one of them being a DJ. They actually talked for a living. Talking was their primary source of income. It is so incredibly ironic because by the climax of the film, we learn that talking might actually kill them. But it transcended the matter of simply losing a job and not being able to sustain yourself, it got to the point where talking as a means of getting yourself out of imminent danger (like asking and explaining just what on earth is going on) becomes dangerous itself. The main characters are trapped in a situation where the only way out is also the trapdoor. I find this a very interesting aspect of the film, because it makes the situation a lot scarier, when you realize that there is practically no way out. It’s not like they’re trapped in a place and handcuffed to a pole. There’s still a lot of room for things to happen that could lead to an escape. Someone could come to the rescue. Or our heroes could find something sharp, destroy their shackles and free themselves. No, in Pontypool, the saw and the shackles are the same thing.
The second thing I found funny was how easy they made it for the main characters to escape this dilemma. They were just simply given the ability to speak and understand a different language – French. For me, it just seemed way too convenient for the film to be set in a place where a big percentage of its inhabitants are bilingual, thus, not necessarily eradicating the problem, but buying everyone a lot more time.
Understanding. In the end, this was the explanation as to how things were happening. The movie never explained why these things were happening, but it did try to explain how. Apparently once you understand the word that’s infected, you get infected as well. I liked the end, it threw me off completely, and I guess it tied up the entire film by having the last scene be something that doesn’t make sen, thus making it difficult to understand.