Have you ever thought of something so bizarre that you think, “What the fuck is wrong with me?” And then you subsequently remove that thought from your brain? I have them all the time, but I’m not sure it’s ever been as weird as the core concept of Pontypool. If you are familiar with Stephen King’s Cell, and somehow liked it, then you will love Pontypool.

Pontypool as a film is a celebration of sound. From sound design to thoughtful voice acting, and even a setting that lends itself to this idea. It’s a low-budget movie that exists in one setting – A former church that’s been converted to a radio station. There are a single-digit number of characters, and some that we don’t ever see on screen, as they only exist on the other end of a radio. Everything about this film screams that this crazy idea someone had should be explored further, and the best way to do that was to elevate the sound design.

Pontypool is a lonely movie. There are so few characters, and so much dialogue that you begin to ignore the potential of the outside world. It’s a super verbose movie in order to serve this idea further. It’s a small town in a winter storm in a radio station that’s in a basement. It truly imparts this sense of separation and loneliness that I relate to on a personal level.

With all of the above in mind, I’ll reveal to you that Pontypool is a zombie film. It’s bizarre idea, however, separates it from every other zombie film ever made. The zombification process is started by understanding an infected word in the English language, as it has been hijacked by an aural virus. It plays heavily on the idea of semantic satiation; the more you say a word the less you can understand its meaning. Try it out at home. Just say a single word out loud until it starts to dissolve in your mind and your mouth. This idea is insane, it’s super out-there, and I love it so much. An aural virus? What a great way to convey information (or not as the case may be). To quote Grant Mazzy (The protagonist) “Is this really happening, Ken?”

How can you stop zombies that are created by the English language? Do you just begin speaking another language? How does a language get infected? How can you cure something that isn’t a tangible thing like a virus or parasite? And the most interesting question, in my opinion, is how dangerous can a single person become just by broadcasting their voice?

This is a philosophical question I guess, but it’s not a new thought. It just makes you examine an existing problem from a new angle. If you control all of the information, then you control how people behave or what information they can receive. Is this a treatise on stochastic terrorism? Is it a condemnation of dictators? These questions are immensely interesting, and Pontypool makes you consider things from brand new perspectives.

As the situation worsens in Pontypool, the radio station continues broadcasting. Is that a good thing? Are they a danger to others, or are they providing a beacon in the night? Coincidentally, the radio station is 660; the Beacon.

I would give this movie an extreme recommendation for anyone. It’s a film that explores an interesting concept to its extremes and really makes you think. All of this while wrapped in a well-told and well-produced low budget film. God bless the weirdos of the world, because things would be so damn dull without them.

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