Ponty, What, Really, Pool?

Pontypool is a 2008 horror film directed by Bruce McDonald. The film is about the propagation of a virus through speaking the English language. The main protagonist of the film are Grant Mazzy and his station manager Sydney Briar. Definitely, this film is a very confusing. It does not help that the story was quite juggled was well.

The events of the movie take place in a town called Pontypool located in Ontario. The main protagonist is a radio announcer named Grant Mazzy that works together with Sydney and Laurel-Ann. In a shocking turn of events, Grant receives a call from his field respondent about a possible riot in the office of a man named Dr. Mendez. As time when by, Grant receives more updates from Ken relating about the riot. Ken describes what seems to be an outbreak and people fighting each other. But before finishing the report, Ken was cut off by a French transmission instructing them to stay indoors along with other requests such as not using the English language.

In a state of panic, they try to leave, but is unable to due to a horde of people attacking their exit. When they retreated, Laurel-Ann begins to utter “missing” repeatedly when suddenly the doctor comes in. Grant along Sydney and Dr. Mendez lock themselves in the radio booth as they watch Laurel-Ann unravel. Mendez explains that there seems to be a virus outbreak and somehow it infected the English language thus explaining the French transmission. The group tries to avoid using the language and in the end, Grant was able to find a possible cure. In an effort to save Sydney, he confused her with the word “kill”. He then along her made their way to the booth and repeated words that confused the listeners until the screen turned black.

In Joan Hawkins “Sleaze mania, Euro-trash, and high art”, she mentions that, “connoisseurs of trash cinema are always on the lookout for movies that are so awful they’re good. But they also consume films which are recognized by “legitimate” film culture as masterpieces.” She then explains how paracinematic catalogues often tag art films as films which require a different reading. They require a certain reading strategy, which are often only learned through watching the movies of the genre. Such films needs deeper understanding and needs rewatching to better judge the movie. What separates European movies to Hollywood movies is being the mainstream and the other. Most often than not, non-Hollywood films are thrown aside due to the lack of publicity and the generalizations of people assuming it would be horrible.

The low and high art culture taps ultimately is decided by the audience. A high art film of the genre is considered to be the mainstream movies, that follow a certain formula and having a structured plot line. On the other hand, low art movies make it painstakingly hard for the viewers to understand the plot due to utter disregard of norms usually followed in creating a film.

This is one of the most confusing movies I have watched in EVER! The plot is quite queer, for a zombie apocalypse to start from speaking the English language. The cause of the breakout of the virus very weird in itself. In a usual zombie apocalypse movie, we are thrown into the action. Even in the TV series The Walking Dead, the plot almost always includes a zombie hoard attacking them. However in Pontypool, we never really saw the group really engaging with the antagonists. They just stayed within the radio station the whole time never really having any idea of the things that have transpired. We are made only to imagine and visualize Ken’s reports of what was happening outside. The film fails to provide the viewers with a reasonable explanation of how and what is happening. When watching the film, I was quite lost and could not keep up, which made me disinterested. However, I could certainly say that the movie is a form of high-art that something we are not used to. The movie was more a like puzzle, it gave us bits and pieces of information vital in solving the mystery before really providing it. Even the ending when Grant just spat out different words just to confuse the herd of zombies does not make sense. But maybe that was the point, Pontypool as movie does not do a lot for its viewer. Personally, I did not like the movie. Unlike Evil Dead which presented gut-wrenching twists and turns, this film is pale in contrast.


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