What an interesting twist to the zombie genre “Pontypool” has been. It is easy to understand and might seem weird and cheap if one were not to analyze it. If viewed with the intention of wanting to be entertained, that is switching off your brain and aimlessly going through the movie then this movie is not for you. At least for me I didn’t enjoy it in the conventional sense. I did find it highly intellectually satisfying. Trying to grapple with the concept that one may not converse normally with the use of normal language lest become a zombie. It is because of this requirement for analytics that puts this film in the level of High Art. It uses a lot of imagery, metaphors, and symbolisms which one will not be able to get immediately if not thought out properly. Even at the start the title slowly appears starting with the word “Typo”.
A Typo is a grammatical mistake committed when something is typing. Translate that to words, the word that was wronged doesn’t make sense. Its original meaning is loss. This was also shown later to be the solution to the zombie problem. If words are infected, then one must kill the word to cure it. One may kill a word by talking away its meaning. That’s what typos do, it takes away the meaning of the word, and sometimes even the writer can’t understand the word, only in context clues and through reviewing what was already written will the writer be able to correct the typo. It is also important to note that Grant Mazzy, the main character of the film is a radio broadcast host. Radio broadcast hosts are supposed to be able to deliver words clearly to achieve understanding between him and the audiences. To do that there mustn’t be any typo in the script he is to use, if there is any. He loves digressing, however, and straying away from his real job. This straying away from his role can be considered a form of rebellion against the “grammar” of movements, of action, of the dynamic between Grant and Sydney. His flowery form of speech proves to be useful after all when he uses it to try and “save the world”.
Metaphors can lose their meaning, and Grant sure speaks in metaphors. It is in these metaphors that one may or may not understand the meaning behind it and therefore, the virus may not be able to spread if the word meant something else. In metaphors, the words mean or refer to something completely different. Grant is then able to deliver his message (though this is unproven since we don’t see what happens outside the radio station) to the rest of the world while still making sense. This entire film itself felt like a metaphor, one had to not take things literally but dissect its parts and review it repeatedly. It is this use of metaphors that one may consider “Pontypool” as High art. Just like a typo, one must have the context to understand and see the meaning behind the text. Metaphors are no different. Metaphors would only work with the correct social background. Language too follows the same pattern.
Other zombie movies depict zombies as mindless individuals who seek out uninfected humans to infect or to feast. “Pontypool” in this sense is no different only that the virus, instead of being transmitted through blood, is being transmitted through words. That is scary. If I were in that kind of situation I most likely wouldn’t have guessed or find out that it is words that attract these zombies and cause one to be infected. The movie was even made scarier because we don’t know what goes on outside the station. The entire movie happened within the radio station and one can only learn from the outside through listening to radio broadcasts. This was a smart setting because the only way for our characters to understand and see the outside world was through words relayed through the radio, and it is these same words that turned everyone else into zombies. Other zombie movies would focus more on the effects and story rather than the concept the story has or represents.
The movie made me feel isolated, and I was immersed a bit. Since the main interaction of the virus was words, and I am processing and understanding the movie through the words they use, plus the setting of the film is like my setting where I have no idea what it happening outside the room but all I can do to find out is to listen to the words.
“Pontypool” plays around with a unique concept, one I have not heard of before and reminds me of the saying “Words are contagious” or something along those lines. It isn’t a conventional horror, and I can’t say that I was scared, but I did enjoy the film. I enjoyed dissecting its parts and seeing the world that it only showed me through words. The title of this entry is “Typo” because a typo is a virus attached to a word, it makes the word unusable and one must “kill it” and the usual habit of people is to delete the entire word and write over. To write a word again is like giving it new life. You are cleansing the word.