Pontypool began spreading like wildfire across the horror forums a few weeks ago- well probably months ago...actually I'm not sure because I keep track of nothing now that it's winter time. From it's descriptions and poster art and what have you- you've probably assumed that Pontypool follows the likes of contagion movies a la 28 Days Later style. Well I did anyways. As it turns out- Pontypool is amazing, head hurtingly thought provoking and just all around awesome.
I will start off by saying that I will not refer to this movie as a zombie movie. I firmly believe that it is not and that's how my thoughts will stay thank you very much. We begin with a news report about Honey the missing cat; spoken by sort of low scale shock jock Grant Mazzy. Somewhere between his morning banter a strange report of riots and violence has broken out close to the radio station. A correspondent reports on people babbling incoherently, and repeating phrases that mean nothing. Soon these reports get grimmer as people are killed and the answers to just what is happening get foggier and foggier. It is not long before the town is quarantined and DJ Mazzy, and his two radio biotches are trapped inside the studio- broadcasting and waiting to find out just what has happened.
The buildup that this movie creates is astounding. Hearing the callers and the correspondents talk about what is going on and just the overall sense of knowing that something very very bad is happening on the outside was almost suffocating in a way. Trying to piece together the what and the how is practically impossible and instead we are living on the exact moments and events that the characters are. When the action starts to develop halfway through, your breath is still being held because you literally have no idea where things are going because- you just don't know anything. We as viewers are as isolated as all three of the main characters- and I absolutely love that about this film.
Then we have the discovery of what the virus is- and the stunning message behind what it could all possibly mean. Trying to piece together how this "virus" supposedly starts is like an explosion in your head- or perhaps an explosion- projectile vomiting out of your mind (hehe get it?) (that was inside joke to people that have seen it BTW) The overall power of words and the majestic saving beauty of the French language has never felt so intense to me. Trying to delve into the meaning of the film in this review would be like trying to explain why I don't like Ringu very much and we all know what happened there. So rather I will just exclaim that you must see this movie. Sure it's light on the gore and the mayhem- but since when has gore and mayhem been a necessity to a fantastic film?
"Honey the cat is missing"- and the weight that those words start bringing by the end of the film is absolutely mind blowing. It's genius. Grant Mazzy's soothing voice and the chaos that happens coupled with the ending are just all kinds of awesome. Scariest moments include when we hear that teenage boy or whatever speak his dying words- the baby sounds caught on the edge of his breath? Holy cow. Crap my pants moment goes to when that little girl was in the chair. Yeah. Craaaazy.
Basically the message here is that you have to see this movie. Believe all the praise it gets and don't for one second believe that you know everything about this film. There are layers beyond layers of thought behind this- and after seeing it one time you may very well have to stop yourself from pushing replay immediately. If you've ever thought about the simple idea of words and their meanings coupled with how we come to those meanings and how words can mean different things just based on context- then this movie just might make your head explode.
Although I will say that there are several "theories" buzzing around that I don't altogether dismiss- for instance the very absence of the virus in the first place- and the hoax of making people fall under it's spell based on confusion, as well as the presence of love (Valentine's Day helloo!) and how love may be the ultimate cure. Personally that just makes my head hurt even more and I prefer to keep the confusion at a minimum and I am a firm believer in the theory that the virus began with Grant Mazzy's very first words of the film. But for real. See this movie please. You'll never think about words the same way- and let's hope you don't.
Here are those very telling first opening lines.
Mrs. French's cat is missing. The signs are posted all over town. "Have you seen Honey?" We've all seen the posters, but nobody has seen Honey the cat. Nobody. Until last Thursday morning, when Miss Colette Piscine swerved her car to miss Honey the cat as she drove across a bridge. Well this bridge, now slightly damaged, is a bit of a local treasure and even has its own fancy name; Pont de Flaque. Now Collette, that sounds like Culotte. That's Panty in French. And Piscine means Pool. Panty pool. Flaque also means pool in French, so Colete Piscine, in French Panty Pool, drives over the Pont de Flaque, the Pont de Pool if you will, to avoid hitting Mrs. French's cat that has been missing in Pontypool. Pontypool. Pontypool. Panty pool. Pont de Flaque. What does it mean? Well, Norman Mailer, he had an interesting theory that he used to explain the strange coincidences in the aftermath of the JFK assassination. In the wake of huge events, after them and before them, physical details they spasm for a moment; they sort of unlock and when they come back into focus they suddenly coincide in a weird way. Street names and birth dates and middle names, all kind of superfluous things appear related to each other. It's a ripple effect. So, what does it mean? Well... it means something's going to happen. Something big. But then, something's always about to happen.