Pontypool: Low art baby


Whe Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie), a radio superstar back in the day, goes to work in a basement of a radio station building. Looking like another normal day of work until Mazzy hears that there’s a ‘riot’ outside and large groups of people are moving violently, he barricades himself in the radio booth and tries to warn his listeners about this.

Initial Reactions

I would like to say upfront that I like the idea of the movie. The director Bruce McDonald had a brilliant mind of creating a plot that moves only in one setting. I said I like the idea, but not the movie entirely. I felt like if the movie was shot differently, a slightly darker ambience, more/better eerie music, then it would have been way better. Not saying that I don’t like it, it’s a so-so horror film for me. The genius of the writer of the script makes up for it, but I guess it will find appeal in its intellectuality but for me, it’s really pretty basic. Virus transmitted through language. Destroy how you understand the language, you destroy the virus. Nothing really too complex and ‘high art’ about it. But then again, it’s a different breed of horror where it’s all talk and not much action. The thrill it gives you is an imagined fear, the kind of fear you have when you’re stuck in the house and a hurricane is devastating the whole country and all you get to here is this radio jock exaggerating shit on DZMM or whatever.

I also like the idea of language being a carrier of a virus– I have recently learned about ideology and the niceties of it, I think that it relates really well with that. In which the English language took with it an air of the imperialist. It turns into a virus that disrupts the thinking of the masses. Let’s make my assertion more clear by giving an example: in a job interview, two persons look exactly alike, have the same accolade, same degree, same grades, and so on, and so on. One speaks perfect English like he even sounds like Morgan Freeman when you close your eyes. The other one speaks in Tagalog, the street crass way tagalog. Who would you think is more intelligible or who is more qualified for the job? Exactly.

Now I got my feelings out of the way, a little analysis of the film based on the reading: Sleaze-Mania, Euro-trash and High Art: The Place of European Art Films in American Low Cinema by John Hawkins. Hawkins asserted that there is high art and low art, and the film is either high or low depends on the audience and how they understood the plot. I believe this is kind of true, take for example Cloud Atlas a 171 minute film that feels like 4 hours, with 6 different plots, 6 different time lines, 6 different protagonists that never intersect, and so on, and so on. This is definitely high art. Why? Because no one understood what the fuck the movie was about. Exactly what Hawkins was asserting is that the complexity of the plot and how the audience reacts to it is what determines if it is high art or low art. Pontypool for example has some pretty cool complex plot, however, I understood it and I find it basic– I’m sorry, I’m not sorry. I still find Pontypool as a normal zombie film, thus low art.

I believe the people who reported Pontypool would disagree with me, but nonetheless, no matter how complex the plot is, if it is possessed and circumscribable to the mind of the audience or if they find it too easy, it’s still going to be low art.

I need to burn off 100 words more so I’m going to discuss the post credit scenes of Pontypool. The more they make sense the more the virus is going to take effect. The purpose of the antithetical post credit scene is one to confuse people another jab to making it to high art, while obviously what they were doing is really is simple to not make sense. Notice in the end of the post credit scene she used the word ‘baby’ a form of endearment, it has been established several times in the movie that forms of endearment are also carriers of the virus, so it shows us that the ‘play’ they are putting up in the end is still a way to ‘get out of here’– and the threat of the virus is still out there.




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