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"Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

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"Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Old 09-23-13, 02:25 AM
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"Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29





Pontypool (2008)



Selected by riotinmyskull



IMDB ENTRY

NETFLIX WATCH INSTANTLY
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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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Last edited by Chad; 09-27-13 at 05:42 PM.
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Old 10-28-13, 06:42 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Okay, if you want to watch a low budget movie where everything interesting is described to you and you see nothing interesting on screen for at least the first hour, then this is the movie for you!

Nothing of interest even happens at all for at least the first 25 minutes, so I was already bored with the characters and didn't give a shit about any of them. It is bad when you want your main three characters to die 20 minutes in. By the time stuff started to finally show up on screen, I was ready for the movie to end. I know they wanted to build tension by describing instead of showing but the gimmick just didn't work for me. Instead of feeling invested in the characters, I just didn't care.

But enough about that...how about the retarded notion that you can turn into a zombie by saying a sing word? Incantations are silly but I can at least buy that. But saying a single English word sends you into a tizzy. That's right...all other languages are safe...just English is fucked up. Social commentary perhaps? American bashing? (yes, I know it is a Canadian film but I am just hypothesizing here.) Who knows?

It was so downright silly that I just couldn't take it seriously. I was stunned to go on the IMDB after watching the film and reading some comments and reviews making it sound like this idea is "refreshing," "cerebral," and people stating you are a drooling fool if you don't "get" this film. Well, guess I am a dummy.

I understood what the creators were going for but I honestly just didn't think it worked.

My rating: ** out of *****
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Old 10-28-13, 07:39 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Pretty boring movie that doesn't deserve all of the fringe fanboy love it usually gets.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:16 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I loved the beginning of the film, which captured the misery and feeling of isolation you get starting work so early on a winter morning, the sky still pitch black, the snow coming down. I found the opening scenes very effect, being trapped in a little rinky-dink radio station while the reports of outside choas trickle in. I think I may have enjoyed the movie more if it kept at this pace for the entire film, never showing you the zombies.

Pontypool made me laugh a lot. I think it's aiming more for comedy and a general feeling of "weirdness" than horror. I understand why someone wouldn't enjoy it, but I think it is worth dipping you toe in the water of. Give it twenty or so minutes to see if it clicks with you. If so great, if not, not harm done.

Last year I tracked down the book this is based on, and it is really bizarro, though the only connection between the book and the movie is the general theme. I think World War Z stuck closer to the book than this.
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Old 10-28-13, 02:37 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Surprised at the negative reviews here, I thought it was much better than Grave Encounters.
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Old 10-29-13, 01:19 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
how about the retarded notion that you can turn into a zombie by saying a sing word? Incantations are silly but I can at least buy that. But saying a single English word sends you into a tizzy. That's right...all other languages are safe...just English is fucked up. Social commentary perhaps? American bashing?
I was thinking the same thing. The "American virus" is spreading and sickening the world. That message was about as subtle as the Star Wars prequels preclaiming Liberty was dying to thunderous applause, and the government got its emergency powers to send the military off to fight an enemy that existed only so the government could get its emergency powers. Subtle George. But I still love Star Wars because it's bigger than politics.

But THAT aside, I imagined the opening to be how things at WGON were when the events of Night of the Living Dead began. The strange, unconfirmable stories they must have heard, huh? Granted, they were TV and would have had video, but the idea is pretty interesting. We joined them a couple of days into their epidemic in Dawn of the Dead, but the beginning would have been just like Pontypool. I think that would make a great companion film to the Night/Dawn/Day series.

It would also make a great A&E stand alone movie. The initial reactions at some Atlanta station filling in some of what Rick missed during the beginning of The Walking Dead saga.
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Old 10-29-13, 05:30 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Surprised at the negative reviews here, I thought it was much better than Grave Encounters.
Yeah, I agree. Great creepy mood plus the performances (particularly Stephen McHattie's) made this a nice pick when I watched it last year. I will look forward to revisiting it later tonight.
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Old 10-29-13, 05:37 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Burgundy LaRue View Post
The movie works because of Stephen McHattie's performance.
He was great.
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Old 10-29-13, 10:10 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I was tempted to Google translate this post to Chinese so no one here would be infected with my English...

Pontypool is probably the best "stuck in a radio station listening to people talk" movie they could make out of the premise. Pontypool is not very entertaining for much of it's run time, I think it's curious on an intellectual level as a narrative experiment and social commentary but agree not it doesn't deserve the positive buzz surrounding it. When I first saw it, I began to doubt my own sanity wondering if I had seen the same movie as everyone else. It gets points for originality and not revealing the carnage adds an eerie mystery to the proceedings (but more balance of action would have been nice). The dry comedy that the media is receiving information they can not believe (versus the sensational muck rucking of actual media) is interesting for a while. English only transmission of the virus doesn't make any sense and the revelation seems to just come out of nowhere nullifying any sort of impact.

People say the actor saves this film and he has an amusing stage presence, but not one that helps viewers immerse themselves in the film. It's silly that the radio crew doesn't really stop their job or show much emotion (they seem to rationalize and intellectually review everything) with all the apparent carnage outside even as the girl bashes her head against the window. The doctor even comically takes cool rationalism to an extreme.

What do you people think of the ending? I loved how vague it was but it seemed a little too far out - they randomly decided that through "destroying words" they would save the world. I don't get it.

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Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Surprised at the negative reviews here, I thought it was much better than Grave Encounters.
That's really not saying much. Grave Encounters is an over the top in your face to a fault film and Pontypool seems like the total opposite revealing very little of anything.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-29-13 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 10-29-13, 10:55 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
What do you people think of the ending? I loved how vague it was but it seemed a little too far out - they randomly decided that through "destroying words" they would save the world. I don't get it.
I think they discovered what several of the trigger words were, so they decided to find replacements so that people wouldn't have to speak the triggers in the future. Or something like that.

Or were you talking about scene after the credits?
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Old 10-29-13, 10:55 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
English only transmission of the virus doesn't make any sense and the revelation seems to just come out of nowhere nullifying any sort of impact.
I have to disagree. This particular strain of the virus could very well only work with certain English words, just as there may be a Russian virus, a Portuguese virus, or a Korean virus. Since the transmission of the virus hinges on understanding the words that contain it, someone with the Russian virus could be talking a mile a minute right next to you and you'd probably be safe...just as certain types of flu only affect birds. I can see your point due to the way that the film showed the characters using French...but I think that the authorities were wrong, as the doctor showed that the virus probably had a German strain.

It's all very much conjecture, but that's what makes it interesting. A real-life semi-analogue to this concept is that of memetics. Check it out. And while we're at it, this seems fairly pertinent to the discussion as well:



And to echo cproaps, what WAS up with that scene after the credits, anyway?
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Old 10-29-13, 11:51 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

The entire zombie genre has never really appealed to me since it seems to be rather one-dimensional. Yes, there are some notable exceptions but of late it's become an excuse for endless scenes of running and shoot-em-ups. Having said that, I found Pontypool interesting because it focused on the virus instead of the zombie-like infected people. The premise was a good one, but it was revealed too late in the movie and by then I was anxious for something to happen. The Doctor character who appears later and semi-explains what's going on was so comical that he destroyed any sense of dread that had built up.
Even so, I applaud any filmmaker for at least trying something different and I'm glad I saw it.
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Old 10-30-13, 12:03 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I didn't realize there was a post-credit scene but looked it up on youtube, thanks for the notice. Below is a clip for anyone else who missed it.



In an interview the director explains it partially:
Originally Posted by Bruce McDonald on Twitchfilm.com
The existence for it is sort of buried in there, well the title of the book sort of suggests it, Pontypool Changes Everything, and one of the things I’ve always love about the notion of this, is that the virus could effect something as abstract as the English language, it can leap into reality itself. Change the fabric of how reality is perceived.

http://twitchfilm.com/2009/03/from-p...bruce-mcd.html
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Old 10-30-13, 07:52 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I enjoyed the acting and the one location is a very good one, but I found this a pretentious flick for the most part and was underwhelmed. Felt the same way when I saw it theatrically. The sound design is pretty cool for the call-ins and we get to use our imaginations, but the whole language thing just becomes ridiculous to me and I think the filmmakers were trying to be too clever instead of delivering a fun climax.
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Old 10-30-13, 12:44 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
That's really not saying much. Grave Encounters is an over the top in your face to a fault film and Pontypool seems like the total opposite revealing very little of anything.
I agree that their executions are polar opposites, but they are pretty similar in a lot of ways. They are both low budget horror movies with small casts set entirely in one location. Grave Encouners went with the haunted house, jump scare approach, while Ponytpool went with the War of the Worlds approach. I thought Pontypool was thought-provoking and original, and relied on your imagination which is a huge plus for me. Grave Encounters lost a lot of its impact for me when it finally showed the ghosts, which I felt looked cartoonish. However I thought the first hour was really tense, not knowing what was lurking around each corner.

I think a horror movie that gets you to use your imagination is much more effective. The creepiest moments in this movie were when the field reporter was calling in and describing the carnage that he was seeing. I found them really unnerving, especially the part where the teenager was speaking with the baby voice. I have all sorts of thoughts running through my head while watching Pontypool, this is the second time I've watched it and I am already eager for a third viewing to see if my theories change.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
It's silly that the radio crew doesn't really stop their job or show much emotion (they seem to rationalize and intellectually review everything)
Not at all. One of the reasons I like this movie so much is that I work at a news station, and Pontypool gets it right. The characterization is spot on. I've worked with all of these characters before. The tired, cynical talent who was fired from a big market and is forced to slum it in a small town. The only excitement is the adrenaline rush he gets from stirring shit up. The seriously professional producer, struggling with keeping the talent's ego in check while also keeping them interested in their work. Unflappable and always ready to come up with a plan during a crisis but determined to do things by the book. The young technician, swept up in the excitement of working in the media but without the experience to handle a crisis. Even the chopper guy rang true, despite never seeing his face, he felt like a real person. I've seen similar situations where we've had a chopper on the ground in bad weather, giving the illusion that we're flying. Even though he was in a dangerous situation he wanted to get a little closer to get the story out.

There's a wonderful moment where the reporter freaks out and says "shit" on the air and the producer winces when this happens, despite everything that's going on, she's still living through the rules that have been ingrained in her as a producer. This is as authentic as it gets as far as media in film. It was refreshing to watch a movie get it right, especially after watching Scream where Courtney Cox was repeatedly "going live" without the proper equipment set up to do so, and despite the fact that a reporter can't just go live whenever they feel like, they wait for their producer to make time for them in the show, and there's a lot of communication and waiting in the meantime.

I strongly disagree that the crew should have been handling the situation emotionally. These people train throughout their entire careers for moments like these, they detach themselves from the situation and report it professionally. A couple of years ago I had to report on my own friend's death, it was hard, but I did my job. You get a little desensitized and when tragedy or a crisis happens, you don't approach it emotionally, you do everything you can to report it professionally. Keep in mind that this is a stressful career with low pay. People have to be passionate about the work to stay in the industry, and when something this groundbreaking happens, they will stick with the story for as long as possible. Even in Dawn of the Dead, the movie opens up at a TV station where crews are working around the clock to report the story, long after they probably should have fled. The main character of Pontypool doesn't understand the extent of the crisis until it's too late, when he realizes what's going on he tries to leave, but at that point the building is surrounded.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
The dry comedy that the media is receiving information they can not believe (versus the sensational muck rucking of actual media) is interesting for a while.
Right from the beginning, the talent wanted to run with the story, but the producer had to rein him in so they could get confirmation from the wire first. This is pretty standard. You'll notice that they had to preface a lot of the information as being unconfirmed. The best is getting an eye witness in the field, but you're supposed to wait for wire copy that confirms a story before reporting it as fact. The producer was following this procedure but the talent wanted to just run with it.

More thoughts on the language aspects of the film later, but I want to say that I loved the opening of this film, it sets the tone beautifully.
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Old 10-30-13, 05:24 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I loved it. While it had it's flaws, I'm very forgiving of horror films that actually make me use my brain.
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Old 10-30-13, 05:48 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I loved it. While it had it's flaws, I'm very forgiving of horror films that actually make me use my brain.
Just curious but how did it make you use your brain?

I keep seeing mentions like this for reviews for this movie and I just don't get it. This movie didn't seem that hard to comprehend and it didn't see any more intelligent that any standard horror movie. What makes people feel it is so cerebral? I know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I had no problems "getting" this movie. What makes it so special that it warrants these kinds of comments from various reviews?
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Old 10-30-13, 06:22 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
...I think a horror movie that gets you to use your imagination is much more effective....
That's a good point, but for the medium of film it felt teasing to me - which might have been the point and I can appreciate that (even if I didn't find it enticing).
Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
...One of the reasons I like this movie so much is that I work at a news station, and Pontypool gets it right. The characterization is spot on. I've worked with all of these characters before.... This is as authentic as it gets as far as media in film.... The main character of Pontypool doesn't understand the extent of the crisis until it's too late, when he realizes what's going on he tries to leave, but at that point the building is surrounded...
I appreciate these insights from the news profession, that helps me see some aspects of Pontypool differently. I wonder if the book writer or film makers had experience in this field, I could see this being a flight of fancy for some media person. Maybe this is a good point about how people so disconnected from a thing still expect realism even when they (I) wouldn't recognize that realism even when they are present.
Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
...I keep seeing mentions like this for reviews for this movie and I just don't get it. This movie didn't seem that hard to comprehend and it didn't see any more intelligent that any standard horror movie. What makes people feel it is so cerebral?
I agree that it's not that intelligent of a movie; but can see how people might appreciate it's abstract "sick language" theme and feel it's deeper than what's presented just because it's not conventional. The idea that language is sick, and that if language can be changed so can reality makes sense and is an ambitious theme but I don't necessarily find it "deep" because these events just seem to randomly happen within the film's invented logic (pointing out language really is powerful - so much it could even... create zombies and kill everyone?).
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Old 10-30-13, 09:07 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
Just curious but how did it make you use your brain?

I keep seeing mentions like this for reviews for this movie and I just don't get it. This movie didn't seem that hard to comprehend and it didn't see any more intelligent that any standard horror movie. What makes people feel it is so cerebral? I know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I had no problems "getting" this movie. What makes it so special that it warrants these kinds of comments from various reviews?
A bit of my feelings echo what Undeadcow says below...
Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
agree that it's not that intelligent of a movie; but can see how people might appreciate it's abstract "sick language" theme and feel it's deeper than what's presented just because it's not conventional. The idea that language is sick, and that if language can be changed so can reality makes sense and is an ambitious theme but I don't necessarily find it "deep" because these events just seem to randomly happen within the film's invented logic (pointing out language really is powerful - so much it could even... create zombies and kill everyone?).
...and then a lot of what Davey mentioned earlier, it making us use our imaginations. By not showing what was happening, or even that it was 'zombies' for quite awhile, it kept me thinking and guessing. Most films, especially horror films, are much more cut and dry. I'm not saying that's always a bad thing, but I really appreciate films that take big chances.
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Old 11-01-13, 03:24 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen View Post
Pontypool made me laugh a lot. I think it's aiming more for comedy and a general feeling of "weirdness" than horror.
I'm not even sure it's trying for that, but certainly I found it very funny, too. I enjoyed it a lot, in fact - mostly because of Stephen McHattie. I can only assume I remember him from Happy Town, because that's the only thing that stood out on his filmography... hopefully he does more and/or I can find some of his other films, because I thought he was great. The other two (three) did a reasonably good job - the doctor was an odd character, but I thought his oddness was quirkily believable - as well, but as a main character Mr McHattie was excellent. I suspect a viewer's opinion of him would colour their opinion of the film itself...
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Old 11-01-13, 03:34 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
The dry comedy that the media is receiving information they can not believe (versus the sensational muck rucking of actual media) is interesting for a while... It's silly that the radio crew doesn't really stop their job or show much emotion (they seem to rationalize and intellectually review everything) with all the apparent carnage outside even as the girl bashes her head against the window.
Not really. The job of many newspeople - particularly as they see it themselves - is precisely to remain calm and detached. The comedy for me came in large part because this was a tiny pointless radio station in the middle of nowhere. They'd never had a "real" story (listen to local news.. it's 99% NOT NEWS) and now they have the biggest one ever. Their journalistic training is finally coming to the fore, and they are struggling to do their job as professionally as they can. The interaction with the 'real' TV news anchor was particularly well done and amusing: he made them look foolish, said nothing and yet gave his viewers the impression that he was saying something: highly believable, very clever and witty satire.

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
English only transmission of the virus doesn't make any sense and the revelation seems to just come out of nowhere nullifying any sort of impact...
It makes great sense. Not as much as Chinese, but that would be harder to sell to a Western audience for obvious reasons. A hypothetical virus that can travel on soundwaves would select the most common and ubiquitous for its task. And if the revelation came out of nowhere... that's more believable. News breaks out of nowhere (although here the gibberish and random phrases were clearly seeded early).

Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
What do you people think of the ending? I loved how vague it was but it seemed a little too far out - they randomly decided that through "destroying words" they would save the world. I don't get it...
The hypothetical semi-science was that the virus came in on soundwaves through the ear, but then dug in and began the infection when it reached the brain and was re-transmitted round the parts of the brain as it was understood. So the only way to theoretically counteract that was to attack language and understanding and comprehension.
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Old 11-01-13, 03:45 PM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Spiderbite View Post
Just curious but how did it make you use your brain?
I would use a different phrase: it makes you think. You (might) get to wondering what - if any - truth/science there is to this possibility. Whether there's a possibility that, say, an alien lifeform might exist on a different enough plane of reality that it could "infect language". Whether a non-alien lifeform could evolve to do the same thing. Whether there'd be any defence against it if such a thing happened.

Then there's the "how would I react" questions: if my city - and friends - were out there dying, but I had a job to do: would I? Could I remain dispassionate? Would I believe what I was hearing, or presume it's a practical joke... if my producer told me that the police involved were alcoholics, what would that mean regarding their veracity?

Do you trust your gut, your producer or your training? Do you run or stay? Etc.
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Old 11-02-13, 11:53 AM
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Re: "Pontypool" Reviews/Discussion - 2013 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I watched this as my first film of the 2010 challenge. This is what I wrote then (when I was still actually trying to write min-reviews of all the films I watched):

"This is a film I read about a long time ago and had been wanting to watch ever since. I thought the concept was fascinating. People are turning into zombies, and it's being transmitted through language. I'm a writer/editor and love zombie films, so I thought this could be perfect. Well, not so much. It had its moments. It certainly wasn't bad, and it was refreshing to see a totally different take on the zombie story, but it just didn't end on a very good note for me. Overall, I don't think the film ever really rose to the concept, but it was interesting to watch nonetheless."

So, when this film was chosen for the daily subset, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, but I must admit that my view of the film has softened somewhat. Frankly, I didn't find it as boring this time around. I still think it is flawed, but the second viewing helped a lot. Perhaps my expectations were just lowered. I still love the concept. Apparently there was a plan for more films. I guess that never got off the ground. It would have been interesting to see what direction the story would take if allowed to continue.
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