The Pink Panther Snipes Again

Bad Movie Reviews with a Touch of Snark

Pontypool: Or, Quebec Rises Again

1 Comment

The Film:

Pontypool

Where to Watch:

Netflix

The Premise:

A talk radio show host begins receiving calls as strange events (aka the zombie apocalypse) unfold in a small Canadian town.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

Our film opens with a Twilight Zone-esque radio broadcast. The narrator tells us ominously, “Something’s about to happen. But then, something’s always about to happen.”

This narrator turns out to be Grant Mazzy, controversial talk radio host just about to begin broadcasting on a small-town radio station after being fired from his hit show.

Grant is driving to work in a blizzard when he stops to answer his phone. (Canadians are so responsible.) As he’s pulled over, a woman suddenly appears, bangs on the passenger window, and disappears. Grant is kind of freaked out, but continues on to work anyway.

When Grant arrives at the radio station, his assistant, Laurel-Ann is already there. It’s apparently Valentine’s Day, a detail I really appreciate. He begins a rant on-air about people growing pot in their basements until his boss, Sydney, abruptly cuts him off. Grant then makes an announcement that Honey the cat is missing.

A bigger story breaks, however, when Ken in the Sunshine Chopper reveals that a large group of people have gathered downtown outside of a doctor’s office. Military vehicles are also present. A group of people suddenly explodes from the building, and chaos ensues. Then Grant loses contact with Ken.

Not the most exciting screen cap in the history of blogging, but I didn't have a whole lot of options.

Not the most exciting screen cap in the history of blogging, but I didn’t have a whole lot of options since the majority of the film takes place inside the studio.

Meanwhile, Grant is scheduled to interview a group who will put on a musical version of Lawrence of Arabia (which, coincidentally, would make an excellent bad movie). The interview goes pretty well until one kid starts babbling, “I can’t remember how it ends. It just keeps repeating.” Not good.

After the interview, Grant begins taking calls from those who are first-hand witnesses to the events. They describe masses of people repeating bizarre chants and cannibalizing other people. These calls all end with screaming and a suddenly lost connection. Some suspect it’s the Quebec separatists because, I mean, it’s always the French.

Ken in the Sunshine Chopper calls back and reports it’s not safe outside. He sees someone he knows who is just making weird alien baby sounds. Grant advises him not to approach and, of course, Ken doesn’t listen. RIP Ken.

Suddenly, a French announcement interrupts the broadcast: stay inside, avoid contact with close family members, terms of endearment, and the English language as a whole.

At this point, Grant starts losing it. He storms out of the recording studio, yelling at Laurel-Ann and Sydney as he prepares to exit the building. His yelling draws the zombies, who start repeating the words he’s said. Ultimately, he is forced to stay as the zombies trap everyone inside. Laurel-Ann becomes infected, repeating “m” words to herself. The doctor mentioned earlier breaks into the building, and they all barricade themselves in the recording studio. Well, except for Laurel-Ann, who is locked out and keeps throwing herself against the glass.

It's not good to be Laurel-Ann.  Or really any kind of assistant in a movie.

It’s not good to be Laurel-Ann. Or really any kind of assistant in a movie.

The doctor explains that the virus is transmitted by infected words in the English language (this film seriously is Quebec separatist propaganda). When the word is understood, the virus takes over and copies itself in our understanding. It’s in the language and thus has the ability to reach into reality (THIS is why we had that Twilight Zone intro earlier).

We finally get some of the blood and guts required in basically every zombie movie when Laurel-Ann EXPLODES. The other zombies also manage to break in, but are drawn back outside when Grant and Sydney broadcast a recorded message over the loudspeaker: “Sydney Briar is alive.” This message is repeated so many times that it doesn’t even sound like words after a while. Then “O Canada” suddenly blares in the room Grant and Sydney are hiding in (I’m onto you, Quebec separatists).

The doctor starts to lose it, going out into the blizzard, and later returning. He says that if the disease is in the words, the cure must be in words too. When it becomes obvious the doctor is infected, Grant and Sydney leave him and barricade themselves in another room. Then Sydney becomes infected, and both she and Grant attempt to disassociate words from their meanings in an effort to cure her. For example, “kiss” becomes “kill.” So when Grant says to Sydney, “Kill me,” they begin an end-of-the-world, linguistic experimentation make-out session. Because nothing brings people together like a zombie plague.

"I'm so turned on right now.  Kill me." Uh...what?

“I’m so turned on right now. Kill me.”
Uh…what?

Grant goes back on the air and spreads the word, telling people to stop understanding what they’re saying: “Yellow is crowded, friends are verbs.”  And he’s not even a New Age poet.

The cure may all be in vain, however, as the government begins bombing the infected.

EL FIN.

The Critique:

I think this is a really cool concept—a linguistic zombie plague. The symptoms of the disease are loss of language and repetition of certain bizarre phrases (along with the standard slow, mindless walk and craving of human flesh).  As a blogger and librarian, I believe words are perhaps the most powerful tool we possess. The failure to communicate is an under-emphasized consequence of zombification.  Probably because being a rotting corpse that kills and eats people usually takes first place on the “Reasons It Sucks to be a Zombie” list.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5 Pink Panther heads

Nice concept, but the film suffered from some execution problems.  It’s interesting that the action occurs almost entirely in the radio station; however, I got really sick of staring at those cold, gray walls.  And there were also limited opportunities for screen capping.

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Author: jilliansheilas

I like books, bad movies, bothering my cats, and Herbert Lom. Sometimes I behave like an information professional.

One thought on “Pontypool: Or, Quebec Rises Again

  1. Pingback: Pontypool (Film) Review |

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