Confused. That was pretty much how I felt for the most part of the movie. However, as the story progressed, things slowly started to make sense.
Regardless of how most of the plot made no sense to me, I cannot categorize this film as that of low art. The whole story revolved around people in a studio in a basement unaware of what was happening outside, and as soon as they know about it, confusion arise. The film attempts to deliver that same confusion to its viewers. And it was successful at that. This confusion; this lack of idea for what was actually going on, I believe, is what makes this film horrific. And at the same time, seeing the characters being isolated from the outside world as they hear about the chaos that was going on there without any idea of why it was happening makes the film all the more thrilling. You know that something is out to get you, but what is it? How do you get rid of it? This feeling, at the same time, adds to the frustration and desperation both the characters and the viewers feel throughout the film.
Pontypool is an intelligently made claustrophobic little horror movie shot in an isolated setting where the characters of the film have no idea about what was going on outside; pretty much like how I felt as a viewer. The beginning of the story felt much like a story a child tells itself at night, in bed, for a scare: “There’s something out there. Something dark. It’s getting closer. Listen…” There is a careful built up of suspense. Although there was a slow pacing in the first few minutes of the film, as soon as the “action” started to happen, viewers were hooked on the screen, just waiting for whatever may come next; for things to make better sense.
The film, as I saw it, is pretty much just like a usual zombie movie. It showed similar themes to that of any zombie movie I have ever watched. There were the same shuffling robot-like people, thrusting their hands through broken windows, trying to get hold of their victim. However, what sets this film apart from the usual zombie movie is its unconventional way of how the “virus” that brought these zombies to life were transmitted. The virus is the English language itself, and is spread through conversation. You are only safe if you do not know what you are saying – if you try not to make sense.
Although the movie has only managed to make me more confused than scared, I would still consider this film a properly thought of horror film. In the film, the more detail they go into, the less it makes sense, which I believe is perfect for this kind of horror film, as making less sense is pretty much how would you survive in the film. How it makes a confusing start and an even more confusing ending works at the benefit of the viewer as this makes the movie open to any of the viewers’ interpretation giving them some sort of participation in all the confusion that has happened.