|A musical adaptation of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is only a taste of the terror to come.|
The action takes place inside the claustrophobic interiors of a radio station; the only place of safety is a soundproof room. Outside is a "a big, cold, dull, dark, white, empty, never-ending, blow-my-brains-out, seasonal-affective-disorder, freaking-kill-me-now" snowstorm that traps the protagonists like the mists of The Mist (2007).
|I thought joy-crushing snow was Canada's default weather.|
The virus in Pontypool is carried in the English language: Some words are infectious. Upon hearing them, the listeners stutter in alarm, repeating the offending word until progressing into mimicry. These zombies are not fast, they do not moan, they do not spread their disease through bites: They repeat things, and that noise is far worse than groaning silence. Anyone can be infected if they focus on the wrong word. It's a little out there so far as concept goes, but it works: Phonemes are threats.
The primary form of Internet culture today is the meme: An idea transmitted and reiterated from person to person. Pontypool's crowds are meme-infected, repeating jokes until no longer funny, until they are just background noise.
|"Trolls be trollin'!"|
It's a rare film that manages to challenge our obsession with technology, talk radio, our understanding of language, of memes and of zombies at the same time. Questions about free speech, language, the nature of disease all combine in a film that manages to bring something new to the already dead and shambling zombie genre.