Pontypool. It’s a funny name, really, and you wouldn’t really think of it as terrifying. It certainly doesn’t sound like the title of a horror film. That in itself is quite interesting, as is the premise of this entire movie. Like Rec and Rec 2, Pontypool is a zombie movie with an interesting twist. The twist here is in how people get infected by the zombifying virus: it is carried in language. It’s a bit hard to initially grasp how a virus of some sorts can be carried around in words. Words are infected, not the air that you spew out when you say a word aloud. The words themselves, and how you understand them, are infected. It’s terrifying as in trying to find the answer, in trying to understand what’s happening, you may already be slowly getting infected yourself. The strange virus latches on to you once you understand the word, and it isn’t even just one word, it changes from person to person. The proud, educated ones would then be the first to go, and the illiterate ones are probably safe. Indeed, the joke about the brainless ones being the safe ones apply here.


The movie plays with the meanings of words. The first infected words are supposedly those words which have lost their meaning because they were so overused or misused. For example, terms of endearment. Eventually, the English language is infected. The virus is supposedly carried and passed around by understanding certain words, but the infected words come from a group of words that have supposedly lost their meaning. We humans have this need to understand everything, to have an answer for everything especially when we start becoming desparate. Ignorance hardly seems to be the first solution you think of to a problem such as this one. The premise of the movie is very intriguing, and you just want to understand how it works, exactly, but it’s terrifying because there’s an implication that something terrible will happen to you if you do understand. The final scene of the movie really is very puzzling, and doesn’t seem to make sense. I was trying to figure out what it meant exxactly after watching it, but then it seems to be that the reason for it was that it didn’t make sense, and you’re only safe because it didn’t make any sense to you. And they’re only safe because it didn’t make sense. But it seems like the world is doomed, because eventually, the virus will find its way to all languages especially since all languages are somehow linked to English, and you just can’t not understand anything from now on.


The idea of having a virus spread through something as intangible as words is terrifying. It’s something that you cannot even control, since it’s very difficult to identify what word will affect you, and what word will affect the person you need to talk to. It’s something that can drive you crazy as it goes against your instinct to try and understand everything…if you try to, you’ll probably end up dead. Once you figure out what can kill you, you die.



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.

Pontypool, pontypool, pontypool,


Never have I been so confused in my life when I watched Pontypool. It is not your common zombie film. It is really far from it. For one, the virus is spread not through air and open wounds but by infecting a language. Secondly, the terror is not based heavily on fast-paced gore, but exists more on a mental, thinking level. The premise is that through understanding of the infected words, it causes the host to mutter a word over and over until he/she becomes driven mad, becoming a mindless transceiver of repeating words. I actually think that it will spread more effectively than your average zombie virus. Since humans need language in order to express themselves, it would be too difficult to contain the virus as it does not merely reside on the physical level like common viruses do. Rather, it lives and propagates in the realm of understanding. Soon enough, people will panic, paranoia will spread. And a certain disconnection will occur as we could not express and converse with others (either for help or comfort) in the way that we are used to, something involuntary like breathing which sometimes we don’t even have think about.

As such one of the themes in film includes the power of human language, dangers of communication and how helpless we can be if it was targeted for destruction. With the virus in movie originating in terms of endearment in words such as “baby” and “honey”, one can imagine the extent of the damage that can be done. Furthermore, it is in understanding of phrases and words that we become infected.  In the face of impending destruction, how can we not understand a specific word previously understood? Grant Mazzy, in memorable scene with a slowly maddening Sydney Briar, tells her repeatedly that kill is kiss. It is by doing this that they discover that the virus can be cured. By the end of the film, in an attempt spread the cure, he gives a very inspiring yet senseless speech. “We were never making any sense” Ultimately, the film tells us that though words hold definitions, it is still us, the creators and the users, who give it shape and meaning. This is perfectly summed up by the post-credit scene. I’d like to think that even though, realistically, what happened in ending were the deaths of Mazzy and Briar from the bombs, they were able to escape to another place or world they have shaped for themselves through twisting the language. This made me think about a statement by the doctor earlier in the film: “The virus affects our words, shaping our very reality it its wake.” (or something like that).

Some hardcore fans of zombie films would not welcome its sometimes confusing dialogue, lack of any fast-paced survivalist zombie action and gore and overview scenes of the impending apocalypse in general.  The movie entirely happens only in a radio shack, and what is happening to the outside world is graphically described merely through radio communications. However, I think it offers a smart way of delivering the zombie genre, and uses this topic for experimentation and examination, at the same time offering a bit of social analysis along the way. 

Bad Words


Pontypool was perhaps the most confusing film that we had ever watched in class. It had one hell of a twist; one that would never had entered my mind. The film starts off Grant driving through a blizzard. A woman suddenly taps on his window and says words repeatedly. At this moment, I was already thinking that this could be a very scary and exciting film. The entire film takes place in what looks like a radio station. They only find out about the events happening outside through phone calls. Ken, a reporter for the station, reports about a riot that is happening at the office of Dr. Mendez. He mentions that there is total chaos and that people are dying. His report appears to be referring to some sort of zombie apocalypse. Ken gets cut off but is able to call back a short while after. Ken reports that there is something odd about the infected people; that they are mumbling words repeatedly. I thought that it was a great idea to have the main characters locked up in a radio station, without any knowledge on what was actually happening outside. The viewers were also limited to what the main characters knew. The film became very interesting to me since the events outside remained a mystery, thus sparking my curiosity. A few moments later, Dr. Mendez appears inside the radio station. He notices that Laurel-Ann is exhibiting the symptoms of infection which leads them to lock themselves in the booth. At this point, I was already on the edge of my seat since it seemed to me that the exciting scenes were coming up next. I thought that they would learn that the people have been infected and that their only chance of survival is to escape from the town. I was really shocked when the twist was revealed; that the English words are infected. From this point up to the end of the film, I became absolutely confused. I did not know how words can infect people. I did not know why only English words are infected. I did not know why speaking in another language could save you from the infection. Towards the end, Sydney suddenly appears to exhibit the symptoms of infections. She begins to say the word “kill” over and over again. For some weird reason, Grant was able to cure her by making her say “kill is kiss”. I did not really understand how associating the infected word with something else could cure a person. Grant, as an attempt to cure other people, begins saying tons of English words. I did not understand why Grant, who kept on speaking in English, remained uninfected. After the credits, Grant and Sydney were shown talking about something that made no sense at all. The film left me thinking in my head, “What was that? What just happened?” I did not really know what it meant and what it was for. I could not say that I enjoyed the film since I did not really understand it. The beginning, to me, was brilliant since the thought having no knowledge of the chaos outside really kept me hooked up on the film. The ending, on the other hand, was just too confusing for me to enjoy.

Pontypool: Communication and the Human Language


“Pontypool” is a horror film where a mysterious and unknown virus hits the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. With regards to the movies I did not enjoy watching in class such as “Deadgirl”, “Grace”, “May” and now “Pontypool”, recently, I have been noticing a trend and this is my belief that all of their storylines continually get weirder and weirder. With that being said, I obviously did not like “Pontypool” for the reason that I was completely bored waiting for an exciting thing or two to occur throughout the movie. I also had a feeling it was not properly characterized in the horror genre since it was more suited as a psychological thriller. Initially, I thought that it would be one of the usual zombie movies I have been used to watching but I think it is one of the most common misconceptions made by people after seeing the said film. Although it was apparently a low-budget film in which majority of the events took place in a radio station, I honestly think that the film was intelligent, creative, original and one of a kind.

The film began with Grant Mazzy, a radio announcer, driving to work and encountering a strange woman who knocked on his car but suddenly disappeared. As he arrived the radio station, Laurel-Ann and Sydney, his two co-workers, were eventually introduced. Still bothered by what happened earlier, Grant Mazzy received news from reporter Ken that there was a riot at Dr. Mendez’s office. Ken’s call got repeatedly cut off until they heard of a possible infection. Soon after, Pontypool was then declared to be under quarantine and, they were warned to stay indoors and avoid using the English language. A mob of people attack the station and Laurel-Ann also got infected as she repeated a certain word over and over again. Dr. Mendez arrived and explained that a virus has infected the human language particularly the English language where only certain words are infected which in turn infect certain people only.  Laurel-Ann ultimately died and in order to drive the horde of people away, they played a recording recurrently and spoke in French. They decided to escape but Sydney also got infected and before it was too late, Grant Mazzy successfully disinfected her by convincing her that “kill” meant “kiss”. The movie finally ended with the two of them kissing.

“Pontypool” unquestionably brought everyone to a sudden state of confusion when it was revealed that the virus is in the human language itself and this was the first time it ever happened in class. In addition to this, no one also understood the significance of the scene after the credits. I guess one of the objectives of the horror film is to leave its audience with a number of unanswered questions for them to try to evaluate themselves. It can also be noticed that only Grant Mazzy was not uninfected by the virus which again showed the victimization of women through the characters of Laurel-Ann and Sydney. Moreover, the human language ironically served as a barrier which delineated the people from each other resulting to their abjection. I believe the film wished to inform its audience not only about the limitations of communication and the human language but also to be cautious before you speak.



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.

Small town where there were zombies- Pontypool


Ponty pool is quite interesting because it is mind boggling for me. I am somehow confused on how people get to be zombies but after watching it again, I understood how it turned out. It is not scary at all actually. But there are scenes that are gore like when Laurel tried to go in the booth to hear the voice of Grant for several times until she bled to death. This low budget movie is very claustrophobic as it was only shot mostly on the basement of the building where the radio station lies. This movie is a psychological thriller that plays on people’s minds.

It started out in a little town in Canada called Pontypool when Grant Massy was on his daily routine to work on a Valentine’s Day when a strange woman approached his car and knocked on the window. The woman was saying something but it is not clear to Grant. He was scared and he doesn’t know if he will call 911 or not. So he arrived at the radio station where he was a radio disc jockey.  He was a big time DJ who was relocated in Pontypool. A call from BBC was patched through their system and the anchorman was trying to confirm events that are happening in their area. They were told that a riot was happening but they seem to have trouble confirming it. After some time, they found people hurrying towards their station like a mob trying to attack a building. They knew that there is something wrong with these people. Grant along with his colleagues, the producer Sydney and their technical assistant Laurel Ann lock themselves in. Meanwhile, Laurel was showing some weird behavior and she’s fixating on the word “missing.” Sydney doesn’t know what is happening to her until a doctor, Dr. Mendez, who was hunted by the mob entered the studio and explained things to Grant and Sydney. They found out that a virus is affecting certain words. Words such as terms of endearment have become carriers of this virus. A person gets affected or becomes a zombie if he hears intimate words, and he repeats it over and over until it has no meaning. Laurel finally turned into zombie repeatedly slamming her head on the radio booth and vomited a large amount of blood and gore and then died. Dr. Mendez explained that once the zombie failed to pass on the virus, it dies. On the booth, the doctor was showing symptoms of becoming a zombie so Grant and Sydney left him inside the booth. They knew that English was the only language affected so they speak in French. Outside the booth, there was this girl zombie who attacked Grant and Sydney killed her. Sydney was depressed on killing the innocent girl so she then can’t make her mind out of the word “kill.” Grant noticed it and he tries to cure Sydney. He repeatedly said “kill is kiss.” He tried to change the meaning of kill for the understanding of Sydney. What Grant did worked so he broadcasted words through the station and changed the meaning of it.

Obviously the theme of this movie is about the conflict of communication. Sometimes, we say things like “I love you” over and over again until it lost its meaning. The movie also focuses on a political sense where instead of trying to communicate, violent things happen because it is easier than actual communication especially when there are a lot of people involved. The idea that the important things to us such us language is being attacked is scary.