Don't Encourage Us

Pontypool (2008): Canadian Psychological Thriller/Horror

Episode Summary

In this gripping podcast episode, our hosts unravel the haunting tapestry of the Canadian horror film and audio drama, Pontypool. The episode navigates the film's unique premise where a deadly virus spreads through linguistic triggers, exploring the psychological nuances of language as a vessel for horror. What is Pontypool and does it change everything?

Episode Notes

In this gripping podcast episode, our hosts unravel the haunting tapestry of the Canadian horror film and audio drama, Pontypool. The episode navigates the film's unique premise where a deadly virus spreads through linguistic triggers, exploring the psychological nuances of language as a vessel for horror.  So sit back, relax, and ask yourself: what is Pontypool and does it change everything?

Watch Pontypool free here

Listen to the official Pontypool audio drama here

And then read the Tony Burgess novel: Pontypool Changes Everything


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Episode Transcription

Steve: So pulling that, the concept of language outside of the, the realm of that movie or the, the actual world of that movie, that is interesting. Like, what is language? Why are we anchored to it in the way that we are? What happens when it starts to disintegrate?

Jason: Right. What happens to us? Right.

Steve: Yeah. Like, we lose ourselves in, in who we are.

Jason: Welcome to Don't Encourage Us, the show where we talk about the big ideas behind fiction projects of all different kinds. Books, movies, TV shows, video games, nothing's off limits. I'm your host, Godzilla, and I'm here with my co host, Godzuki. How's it going today? It's doing great,

Steve: Godzilla. I couldn't be better.

Jason: I brought back your favorite bit. You like that? It's just never, it's never ending

Steve: laughs.

Jason: Today we're talking about the 2008 Canadian horror film Pontypool. But first, what's been on your list this week? This week I

Steve: started reading uh, the first Jack Reacher novel. I never read these before. I got the idea from your, uh, terminal list.

I just came across it. There was a podcast that someone was doing and they were interviewing Lee Child. I was like, Oh, I haven't read those Jack Reacher novels. So I just picked that one up. I'm just right in the beginning, so I don't have much to say about it, but I'm excited to, uh, to read it.

Jason: Yeah, set the stage.

How does it begin? The epic journey of Jack Reacher.

Steve: Jack Reacher, it begins by him getting arrested in a small town, and he's accused of a murder that he clearly didn't commit, but the small town police are really blaming him and, you know, are certain that it was him. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough that it was somebody else.

It really establishes him as the, the loner, ex-military cop that he is. And yeah, it's, it's pretty interesting the way it starts

Jason: out. So at this point, his background is a bit of a mystery to the reader. Is that the case? Are we gonna get, are you gonna get flashbacks later on? Is that how they're, this is unfolding.

Steve: It's, it seems like it, yeah. It, this is, I believe, the only one of the novels that's in first person. So you don't even know who he is until later on, like a, I'm really right in the beginning. So it's kind of getting his perspective on the police. The beginning is interesting because he's kind of going through how they're arresting him or what their techniques are for actually arresting him.

Like there's a policeman with a shotgun in one corner of the room and other one with a single barrel, like a pistol or whatever. And he's talking about how they're aligned and why they are set up the way they are and that they're probably Highly trained but not very experienced because they're in a small town So you're really getting this perspective of the way he sees the world, which is really it's it's cool Yeah, it's similar to I would say in a lot of ways to that Mark Greeney series that I that I've been reading Yeah,

Jason: right up your alley.

Yeah, excellent. Yeah, so we have a tactical mind and you get a window into it.

Steve: Exactly

Jason: Yeah, sounds exciting. Yeah, should be. Reminds me of, uh, Lorenzo Llamas. The Renegade? Renegade, yes. Sort of the update of Renegade. Shocking that they haven't rebooted that. Strange.

Steve: Is Scott Bakula gonna be in it?

Jason: We'll wait and see. I think he's available.

Steve: I think he is. He didn't retire, right? What's he doing now? NCIS.

Jason: CSI. CIS, CSI.

Steve: And CIS Toledo.

Jason: Let's see. What's Mr. Bakula up to this week?

Steve: NCIS Albuquerque.

Jason: Um, ooh, okay. NCIS New Orleans up until 2021. So Mr. Bakula is available. Let's give him a call.

Steve: Yeah, great

Jason: podcast guest too for our renegade reboot.

Steve: I bet he'd do our podcast. Oh

Jason: boy Yeah, i'm sure he would not

Steve: I mean, what's he doing now? Nothing, apparently. All right, we'll come on the podcast

Jason: enjoying time with his wife. Yeah. All right. Okay, mr Bakula open invitation. Yeah

Steve: it If you're listening or when you listen to

Jason: this episode, speaking of listening, I just finished book 10 of the expeditionary force series.

I'm on a mission myself to get through all those books. Book 10 was one of my favorites. The series seems like it's really getting better, like high drama. It was kind of the culmination of the first nine and a half books. Uh, they brought it all together and book 11, I guess, kind of starts us off on new footing.

I'm excited.

Steve: You're listening to the audio audiobook at triple speed

Jason: It's at a Steve minus 10, so that would be normal human speed 1 8th Steve speed Yeah, no, it's great. You know, I love the performance RC Bray is Spectacular really and he just seems to get better a lot of the I think all of them actually the audio books have bloopers at The end which are really fun to listen to because he just curses Mercilessly, every time he misses a line.

So really fun stuff. I cannot recommend that enough. If you're looking for something to listen to book 10, just wrapped it up. All good stuff. Nice. So anything else been on your list this week?

Steve: Yeah. I was taking a look at that series bodies that's on Netflix. It's kind of a ludicrous time travel show. Oh, really?

Yeah. It's from the, I believe it's from the BBC and it's about a body that's found. So it's the same body, 1941, 2023, 1890, and 2053. And it's about the detectives that are investigating the case in all those different time periods. And like I said, there's same body, same body. Yeah. There's, there's time travel involved and we're getting to the point now where nothing's really making any sense in terms of the time travel, you know,

Jason: so typical, typical, yeah.

We just have to throw real time travel rules. They're making stuff up. There are no rules. It's just,

Steve: yeah, it's, it's really, really silly. So everyone can just go back and change everything. Oh God. It's one of those. You know, we've got to go back and stop the, the, uh, villain before he does whatever he's done.

But now we've got the issue that you're in 2053. So that's long past and you're in a loop that can somehow be broken, but we're not really sure how and,

Jason: and why. Yeah. Causality loops. They're playing around with that. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, that, that sounds, uh, coherent, logical.

Steve: Yeah, that's really logical. And we're kind of, and at one point one of the characters says, but it already happened.

So what are we going to do about it? But then there's this ridiculous explanation about how it can happen and how they've been trying to do it for decades to go back and stop the evil villain from planting a bomb that blows up like. Half of London or something. It's oh boy. All right. Yeah, it lost me It really did but well interesting setup great acting.

We'll give it that. All right,

Jason: but that's two Five But

Steve: yeah, that was That's about it, um, in terms of shows or anything like that.

Jason: Alright, did you get a chance to watch or listen to or read Pontypool? Oh, is that

Steve: what this episode's about? Yeah, I read it. No, I saw it. I saw it, rather. Yeah, I

Jason: saw it this morning.

Oh, you watched it. Okay. I watched it at night and I felt like that added to the creepiness and the tension How is it watching in the morning with your treadmill jog at three times the speed or whatever? My

Steve: crackin dog watch. Yeah And all my notes. It was your notebook came out with

Jason: my eight raw eggs.


Steve: whey protein shake

Jason: Performing arm curls while you make notes

Steve: performance enhancing drugs Coursing through my system. Injecting in your testicles,

Jason: making notes about Pontypool.

Steve: While I do my morning walk.

Jason: Well, I laid on the couch and watched it on my giant projector and thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was very interesting.

What's your verdict? We're on opposite

Steve: sides of the spectrum on this

Jason: one. Excellent. Excellent. Finally, a disagreement. So no, no bueno, huh? Not a fan of the Pontypool. Not

Steve: a fan. Um, there were aspects of it that I really enjoyed we can discuss and we'll

Jason: get into all that. Yeah,

Steve: but overall I wasn't a big fan of it.

I thought it it kind of fell apart there once you find out what's actually going on Which is probably not a good thing for a movie where you need to find

Jason: out what's going on Yeah, that's the whole point is they're trying to find out what's going on and then you're like I'm out Yeah, not a good sign.

All right. Well in that case I'm going to encourage anyone listening right now who has not seen, listened to, or read Pontypool to check out the links in the show notes. I'll put them there. I'm sure you can watch, listen, or read it for free or very cheap because it's been around for a while. And I say all three because it was a novel.

A radio drama and also a film, all of which did fairly well. Uh, this is a pop culture. Um, what's a good word for this? What's something it's like a submarine, right? Just below everybody's awareness in pop culture, but it stays very firmly in that space because a lot of the people who see it while the audiences are often divided, they have a lot of.

Thoughts and opinions. So it kind of stays in the consciousness, but never reaches the level of, uh, Oh, what's a good comparison here. Taylor Swift never gets to a Taylor Swift level.

Steve: So mildly famous is what you're trying to say.

Jason: Someone you might've heard of. Semi well known. Now, this is a sub pop culture, but definitely, I think it's a little bit above cult classic status.

It's a little bit better than that. It's won a lot of awards and it seems to kind of persevere. All right, so we should set up the story for those people who are still sticking around. Do you, uh, you want to take a shot at the premise and a short summary? Sure.

Steve: Premise. We can do premise, short summary, and you can do your version.

We'll, we'll see, we'll see where I go with this. All right.

Jason: Steven on three. Two, one. Two.

Steve: And action. So there's a radio host called Grant Mazzy. And he works at a, uh, very rural, um, radio station. So there's a storm outside in a small, small town, yes, in Canada, um, called Pontypool and where Ontario, Ontario, Canada, I believe.

And he's driving to work one day. And he, it's early in the morning and the storm has just started and the woman approaches his car and she mumbles something. She's knocking on the glass and he's kind of freaked out. He goes into work. He's got two, I guess, audio engineers, one's a producer, one's an audio engineer, two women who he works with and they're kind of have an antagonistic relationship with him, especially the producer.

The boss. The boss. Yeah. And he's doing his radio. I guess morning kind of routine stick stick I'd call it. Yeah. And after a while you find out that a facility like a medical facilities. been attacked, and you hear about this from a guy who it was in something called the sunshine chopper. It's this little thing that they have going on where he's not really in a chopper.

He just is up on a hill and he is kind of monitoring the town and reporting in and which comes out with sound effects. Yeah. And you find out that he's witnessing. A mob of people and then little by little you start figuring out that, well, it's like an attack of some sort. People are dying. It's sheer chaos.

So the whole movie, you're trying to figure out, or they're trying to figure out exactly what's going on. It looks like, like the zombie apocalypse. has come over this town. The military is involved. Uh, the police are involved. But what is interesting about this movie is that you don't see those events.

You're really getting it from the perspective of inside this, this radio studio. And you see some of the external characters, and you can put that in quotes cause they're really just zombies kind of attacking the studio, but they never really. You know, emphasize any of the, what's going on outside of it.

So later on, um, you get the perspective of the doctor whose facility was attacked and overrun. He's the one who kind of figures out what's actually happening and nature of the illness,

Jason: the nature of the illness. Yeah. And lots of talk about on that point.

Steve: Yeah. And I'll stop there because I don't want to

Jason: ruin the, uh, all right, that was very good.

We have our alcoholic DJ and the twilight of his career, he's been fired from the big city comes this small town and a series of strange events during a blizzard sort of trickle into this whole, this entire movie was shot on one set. Pretty much, uh, just the radio station. They've got like a sound booth.

They've got a technical station and that's about it. There's like a little snack room, but it's all one big room in the basement of a church we're told. And during the course of the day, there's information slowly trickling in, telling them about weird occurrences, you know, strange behaving mobs of people.

And it's your job as a listener to, or as the viewer to figure out what's going on. And this guy is trying to hold on to a sanity pretty much. Right. Yeah. Okay. So kind of a creepy setup. Uh, not so much night of the living dead. It's not really your standard kind of zombie story. I don't think that's the best way to think of it.

I think of it more as just your kind of classic, um, Oh, what's a good example of this Cloverfield

Steve: Cloverfield

Jason: three, Cloverfield lane, Cloverfield lane. Yes. With John Goodman. Excellent comparison, right? Yes. It all kind of mostly takes place. You don't in the, in the basement cellar there, you don't really know who's telling the truth, what's going on.

Um, it's that kind of drama and the aliens in that story are pretty secondary. They don't really matter that much. And similarly here, the happenings in the town, the mobs and the attacks are just there to kind of set the stage and keep the creep factor up. So really interesting. It was based on a novel, which I've read a couple different sources had the year different.

I've got 1995 and 1998, but I think it the it's a part of a trilogy The original novel is Pontypool changes everything. I think it was the second book in the trilogy So I don't know if it came out in 95 or 98. Maybe the first book came out in 95 So anyway, each of the books seems to tell a different story, so I think it's a pretty loose trilogy written by Canadian horror author Tony Burgess.

Um, the novel was adapted into an audio drama, and I think the same actors, as far as I can tell, did it, and then later as a film script, which is what we watched. Were you aware of any of that stuff? Did

Steve: that come up? I was. I was aware about the, uh, the fact that it was a novel. Yeah. I didn't realize that it was a...

A radio

Jason: drama. Yeah, it's an audio drama,

Steve: which makes a lot of sense.

Jason: Yeah, um, we can talk about this. Well, actually, I'll ask you now. Do you feel like it worked well as a film or do you think it would be better as an audio drama?

Steve: It's a great question. I think It would be better as an audio drama because I think in this film there, even though I thought the camera work was, was well done, I think it's very difficult to have a film that's set in one location and have enough variety of camera angles and creative editing to keep you as hooked.

As you would be if you were just listening to it, but my I mean, my big problem wasn't really the way that that things were set up. I thought that was really well done. How little by little news would trickle in. I thought there were some good moments between the actors. My big problem was the whole premise of what's actually going on.

Jason: The nature of the threat. The nature of

Steve: the threat. It really took me out of it because I, in movies like this, I want the explanation for what's going on to be. remotely plausible in a way that I don't have to really, really stretch my, you know, right. Giving them a benefit, the benefit of the

Jason: doubt suspension of suspension of

Steve: disbelief.

Suspension disbelief. It was just too much for me because it was so kind of ridiculous in so many ways. Um, and I think the moment that you do find out what's going on, I thought the actor that they chose for that role wasn't. Very good. I found him to be really weak. The doctor? Yeah.

Jason: You know, I would say if there's a weak link, it would probably be him.

His character is an odd character and probably very difficult to play. So I don't know that there are too many actors who would really find that particular voice and it's always possible the director requested that he deliver things that way, but it was a bit of a distraction. He did Sort of stand out in that way, unfortunately.

So yeah, so we'll, we'll definitely dive into the nature of the threat. That's something you and I get hung up on sometimes, but I'm just going to say at this point, I think it's completely understandable to me that that would take a lot of people out of the story. And that's probably true in the novel as well.

And I did listen to the, um, audio drama version and it's very similar, but it has a different ending, which we can talk about too. But anyway, back to the nature of the threat for me. It was so far removed from reality that it kind of circled back around in my brain to being acceptable as art, like, in no way did it seem like a real occurrence.

It really felt like, uh, this film took on a level of surreality, especially with. The use of language and, you know, how characters were, um, interacting. It was very surreal, very not what you would expect from actual people at key moments. And when I did find out what the nature of the threat was that just in my mind kind of fit that theme.

So it didn't bother me, but it normally that kind of stuff really does bother me. So I think it's a creative idea, but not a scientific one. It's basically fantasy. Do we know how

Steve: the novel handles it? Does it go into much more detail about the nature of the threat or is it as surface as I felt it was in the, uh, in the movie?

Jason: Yeah, so I, um, I grabbed the digital copy of the novel. I haven't had time to read enough of it to answer your question in an informed fashion. But I did read some summaries which suggested that the film and the radio drama, which are pretty tight, and they cover the same characters and the same story for the most part, they're essentially a slice out of the novel.

The novel's a much bigger, uh, story. Right. And it covers more, a lot more, a lot more people and a lot more anger angles of this issue. Um, so I really would imagine that it's explored more deeply, but I don't think more scientifically. I think they, I think the author, um, the tone. That the author was trying to find around this threat, I think is probably reflected in the film as well.

So I would say yes and no, you might like it because there's more, but I don't think it's like more definitive or more realistic.

Steve: I see. Yeah. I mean, I would equate this, the nature of the thread and really the ending to a shift from your traditional horror type or thriller type of movie to spoken word poetry.

Like two different genres were kind of fused together, but I felt it was very abrupt there. Yep,

Jason: it was.

Steve: In the beginning, like I mentioned, I thought that it was really well done, the, this idea that you're isolated, you're only getting little bits of information coming in, there's, you know, there's a big unknown, what's actually happening.

And it's being filtered through the people, which I liked, yeah, which I did like. And then I felt it just takes such a shift in terms of like, it's just a huge one 80. In terms of what's actually happening. It's it's a lot. I would have almost preferred it to be more traditional A zombie dawn of the dead style

Jason: Yeah You know, I think your your viewpoint here is probably one shared by at least half of the people Who watch this or listen to it?

Maybe even read the book as well. It's very legitimate because it's a Grounded like, let's talk about war of the worlds as a comparison for a second. The original radio drama made such a big splash in what, 1600s or whatever that came out, because in part it was, it was grounded in reality. It sounded like something that could really happen.

And this takes pages out of that playbook. But then when you get to the thing, it's not a thing that could really happen. And I think for some people, it's fine. Because of the surreality of it and they maybe plug into that and they enjoy it, right? This is different. It's creative. Other people, it's probably like a car crash in the middle of the story.

It's like a train wreck suddenly and the whole thing just got derailed and now it's silly or weird or, you know, weird for the sake of being weird, which is even worse, you know, I don't know. Thoughts? It looks like you have something to say to that. No,

Steve: I was gonna say should we, should we let the audience in on what the Let me

Jason: do a little housekeeping and just back up for a second.

So the film adaptation we're discussing was directed by Bruce McDonald, who's actually a well known, modest budget director out of Canada. He's done some stuff that people point to as some of the best films out of Canada, or the best art films out of Canada, or mid budget or low budget. Um, so he's well known and this project attracted him and I think he put something worthy of his, you know, work, uh, together here.

The DJ Grant Mazzi is played by Steven McAddy, who is a recognizable face. Did you recognize him at all? He's popped up in a lot of stuff. He

Steve: looked like, like an actor that I've seen before, but I didn't know where.

Jason: Yeah, so he was Elaine's psychiatrist, boyfriend in Seinfeld for a while, a reoccurring role.

Uh, he was in the watchman. Uh, he's, he's done a lot of stuff. The station manager, Sidney Breyer, is played by Lisa Ho. Um, did you recognize her at all? Again,

Steve: she looks

Jason: familiar, but Right. Similar, right. She's, she was in, uh, numerous TV shows. Uh, she was on a flashpoint for a while. Um, she's actually married.

To Stephen McHattie. So the two leads in this film are husband and wife. Yeah. So the uh, estimated budget from the Internet Movie Database was just under 1 million for this. And currently at Metacritic, it's at about 54%. Which I think is split. I don't think it's probably a lot of tepid reviews. I think it's probably a mix of high and low reviews, which would make sense to me.

Uh, all right. So there's a lot we can talk about, but I'm, I know my partner wants to get straight to the end. So let's talk about the nature of the threat. So again, just to set the stage for those of you listening, whole movie takes place on one set. There's a DJ booth. There's a technical station. These three, mostly these three actors are getting little bits of information from different sources that are telling them that some, you know, people are acting very strangely throughout the city, the small town.

They're tearing people apart. They're chanting or saying weird sentences, phrases that That aren't your typical brains kind of zombie stuff. They're not screams. They're just seemingly random phrases. Uh, somehow it seems to relate to language, right? The coincidences, the nature of words, uh, and a missing cat.

Until we find out at one point when a sort of German ish kind of scientist who, or a, sorry, a doctor who we find out early on is in being investigated for giving out pills, um, inappropriately to his clients and he's, uh, throwing pills in his mouth the whole time we see him, he actually backs into our set via an open window when the building is surrounded by some of these zombies.

And he begins to present in a very disjointed way his theory of what's happening. So do you want to try to explain it or should I? I can try

Steve: to explain it, but it didn't make

Jason: much sense to me. I'm happy to take a stab, either way. Alright,

Steve: so my understanding of it was that these, there's I guess some kind of virus that lives within people that's being triggered by the sound of specific words or their understanding of specific words that they fixate on and keep Repeating over and over and over again, and then once they're activated, in a sense, they fixate on finding the source of other words.

So they're attracted to language in general until they attack the source and presumably spread this activated virus through language, but It seems to be only infecting English speakers, because when they switch over to French, it's kind of like their way to be immune against language. I guess this is probably, that's what I got out of it, unless there's a lot more to it.

Jason: No, that's excellent. Yeah, essentially, there's some sort of a virus. They don't explain a lot of this, so we have to... Fill in the details in the broadest sense. The English language is infected. So certain words and phrases, for example, terms of endearment, like honey or deer. Uh, what is it speaking rhetorically for some reason?

Uh, certain things like that in English only. Once spoken can be understood by the listener or the speaker, and that can activate the virus in their brain, their brain as the virus is presumably taking hold, they're driven to repeat the word. And, uh, on, you know, unconsciously or unintentionally, they lose control of their language center.

And then once the virus is totally in control, they're driven to find someone else and copy their speech and then destroy them. Basically infect them and then kill them. And then I think they said and this was less clear that once they find a victim and they kill them Then they kill themselves. So I think it's I think that was sort of the sequence which is weird for a virus But anyway, so it spreads via language or more specifically via understanding the english language Or parts of it.

Yeah. That

Steve: sounds about right. Yeah. So pretty weird. Very weird. And also if they don't find another person, they die eventually. Right. It's just like, it's kind of as if some type of timer that runs out because that's what happened to the, uh, to the

Jason: audio engineer. The technical. Yeah. Yeah. So she could not lock on to a victim.

So after enough time had passed, she just basically vomited all of her insides and died. That's pretty weird. So that's what happens. I guess. So yeah, kind of an unusual virus. It was interesting to watch, but I, I think probably a lot of people will be split on the execution and the concept itself. So what else do you want to say about it now?

You can your punching bag is up. You can go after it.

Steve: No, I mean, this movie overall, I thought it was well shot. I thought the acting was good. Um, except for the doctor. Yeah. I thought it was, it was really well done in the sense that for a low budget movie, I think they, they handled the effects well, well enough, you know, passably well, um, that didn't really take me out of it.

I thought the way that the lead actor played his character, I thought was, it was pretty spot on in terms of how he's so disillusioned kind of with life and he talks about how depressed he gets in the winter. It really fit the, the mood of the whole movie.

Jason: Um, definitely. Definitely.

Steve: And the color grading of the movie, the way the movie looked, I thought it was, it was really nice.

I thought the lighting was. Was good as well, but

Jason: yeah, I didn't notice that but that's a good point Especially our opening scene which is the inside of a car with a blizzard all around it And I think they did do a great job now that you mention it with the lighting of the woman who approaches the car and her Vanishing into the storm.

So yeah, that was good.

Steve: What do you think this movie is saying about? Language or do you think it has a bigger point? Around language in general or the effect that language has on on others or do you think it's just a conceit for the movie? That they thought you know, what's the you know, it can be triggered by sound it can be triggered by you know the typical zombie movie a virus some type of infection, but the idea that syllables language semantics could be a carrier of a virus or at least a trigger for a virus What do you think it says about language in general?

Jason: I think this film isn't really a zombie film at all. I think if you like zombie films, this movie may or may not be something you enjoy, but it'll be for completely different reasons. Um, I think the film is basically about the fragile grip that we all have on sanity and comprehension, like understanding.

So, the information coming in... Triggers an existential meltdown for our main character so much of their dialogue Their facial expressions even the like background music I think are meant to trigger within the audience member a little bit of a Disconnection from reality like a sense of scrambling to keep up in some cases and other times feeling very like What's the word?

Almost like there's a buffer between yourself and reality. Like it's, uh, it blurs the line between the subjective and the objective. Like what, what is truly meaning? What is real? What isn't real? And I think the nature of this virus plays perfectly into that. In the end of the film, but not in the audio drama, they successfully disinfect, uh, a word, right?

A person is, um, I don't want to say cured, but the, the virus within them is not able to fully take hold because the, they intentionally drive that person to challenge their understanding of a word, right? To change it. In other words, to re evaluate reality. For a second. And that works, right? It works in the film.

It actually does not work in the audio drama, which I think is interesting. Um, so anyway, I think that's what it's all about. It's all about our connection to reality are, you know, we often feel anchored by what we see as objective. But I think this film reminds us that so much is truly subjective, right?

Anything that you think is an objective part of reality could really be challenged because everything goes through our perceptions. You know, and our perception is where we're vulnerable to this virus. So I, I really think it's more about, you know, sanity than it is about any kind of, you know, um, virus or infection or bacteria or anything like that.

So it worked for me.

Steve: Yeah, that's interesting. You make a good point about reality in general. And it made me think, though, even though I wasn't a big fan, um, about this idea of anchoring meaning to just what seemingly would be just random syllables. Screwing together, right? And how we're so attached to that meaning, you know, we

Jason: are, we use it to make sense of everything, right?

Language is really key to us being grounded in reality. So that being a vulnerable point of attack is interesting, I think. Let's see what you're saying. Not necessarily realistic in this way, but interesting.

Steve: But it's, it's a movie that, you know, even, even if, you know, you're on my side of the fence, not really enjoying the movie, it does give you a lot to think about once the movie is over.

So pulling that, the concept of language outside of the, the realm of that movie or the, the actual world of that movie that is interesting. Like what is language? Why are we anchored to it in the way that we are? What happens when it starts to disintegrate?

Jason: Right. What happens to us, right?

Steve: Yeah. Like we lose ourselves.

And who we're,

Jason: but, and then we become violent zombies and chew on metal or tape or whatever that was that she was doing. .

Steve: Yeah, I guess you chew on tape, you slam yourself into plexiglass over and over again. The usual

Jason: that I understand, I feel like doing that anyway.

Yeah, exactly. So interesting. Definitely more on the art side. Then, you know, the standard big budget film would typically be. I am curious I probably will read as much of the novel as I feel like I need to to decide if it's Something I would enjoy given that I kind of know the the end here But yeah What another thing we should talk about the post credits scene.

Did you watch through the credits? I didn't Okay, so at some point in your life, you might want to check that out. There's a post credits scene that has the two lead actors dressed in... I'm not really sure what period garb that is. Uh, kind of weird... Like maybe 1950s kind of clothing. I'm not, that's not right.

I don't know. They, he sort of looks like a weird hit man and she's kind of like his, Oh, okay. I know a good example. You remember that black and white film that came out a few years ago where parts of it were in color and it was sort of like a cut based on comic books and very weird, kind of surreal.

Yeah. Kind of like Sin City. And there's another one he did like that. So it's a little bit of that aesthetic and I think it starts black and white and then it fades into color for some reason or something like that. Anyway, it seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film. Yeah, so I looked it up online and the director has since, uh, since that movie came out circled back around and made what they're calling a spinoff to this film about starring those same two actors about those characters, not the characters they play in this movie, but the characters that they're playing for a hot second in this post credit scene.

And it has something to do with, um, Our lead actor, you know, the DJ in this one, but in this other film, he's like a hit man. He's been hired by a woman to kill her sister, who's a vampire at her wedding or something like that. Anyway, I haven't seen it. If you've seen it, please feel free to send me an email or a message or something and let me know what you thought of it.

It looks like the reviews weren't amazing, but it's a spinoff of this very bizarre post credit scene.

Steve: Yeah. Interesting. I may go back and watch that at some point.

Jason: Yeah. I'll take your word for it. I don't know that you're missing a ton other than just kind of weird for the sake of weird at that point. So, again, if you have, if you want to watch this, maybe skip what I'm about to say.

But in the, in both the audio drama and the, uh, film, the main characters, I think, die. Uh, but different ways, right? So the film has this tag on it, this post credit scene, they've both been killed by, I believe it was a bomb from the Canadian military, right? So they were broadcasting a message. It was in English.

The Canadian military told them to stop. Uh, they were trying to explain how to beat the virus. The Canadian military, I guess, wasn't on board with that or it doesn't work or something. So they bombed and killed them. And then we get this post credit, which I took as like, they're in heaven. No, they're dead and this is their existence.

But anyway, very odd. Uh, I think originally it started the film I read somewhere and the director had to put it in the back because audiences were confused. Anyway, very strange, very artistic in a lot of ways. And that is what I would say about this film. Love it or hate it. It definitely explores some creative ideas.

Is that a fair assessment? I'd agree with that. Yeah. Yeah. Any other major points before we talk about what you would do with this intellectual property?

Steve: It's not a major point. I was just curious about the relationship between the BBC journalist and the film in general. Was he really trying to give them a message?

Had he been infected? What were they trying to show with including that?

Jason: I think that's a great question. And I had a similar question. I tried to figure it out. So for those of you who haven't, and maybe aren't going to watch this at one point, while our characters pretty, you know, about midway through the film, maybe a little bit before that, they're trying to figure out what's going on.

And the BBC calls them and says, Hey, we, you know, we understand that there's like an insurgency in your area and we want to. Um, DJ on live with us and we're going to put it on the BBC. So the BBC anchor is asking all these questions like, Hey, what's going on? And we've heard this and we've heard that. And it just sort of goes to further confuse our characters.

And then the BBC kind of checks out. Right. And then late in the film, they're trapped. These two main characters are trapped in a, like a supply closet. And one of them, and we're not sure if he's still saying or not keeps listening for some sort of clue from the BBC, uh, from that interview that would help them, like he's convinced there's some sort of clue in there.

The only connections I could find to make sense of that is that I do believe the radio drama aired on one of. The BBC networks. So I'm assuming that was an easy connection for them to get, or it made sense for them to reference it. Also, it's a Canadian thing. They, they have tighter connections with the British and the BBC.

So I guess that to them, it just kind of made sense, like having CNN or. Fox or whatever, you know, call in an American low budget film, having an anchor do that. I don't know that there was anything else there. I think our main character abandoned the idea that there was a secret message or solution embedded in his conversation with the BBC anchor.

I think it was just an example of how information is hard to get and misinformation just sort of fits our theme of subjective or subjective reality, right? Understanding. being under attack. So I don't think that was anything more than that. But I don't know. Do you have any other thoughts?

Steve: No. I just thought it was, it was kind of thrown in there just to show the, possibly the international nature of the problem that they were facing, that even though they were in a small rural town, it was already international news.

Jason: Sure. Well, there's been talk of a sequel for a while, and again, the name of the novel is Ponypool Changes Everything. So, maybe any kind of follow ups or sequels will explore broader scopes, you know, bigger implications. I don't know. It's possible. Anything else that stood out about this film to you?

Steve: No, I think that's pretty much

Jason: it.

Alright, so if your production company inherited a stack of dead projects and this was right there in the middle, how would you resurrect it? Um,

Steve: I think one of the big things I would change about the script, if I still wanted to do the whole language infection idea, and the more we talk about it, the more I think to myself, would there be any scientific explanation that could possibly, make this make any more sense, and I'll probably dive into that a little bit.

Like, is there a special tonality or frequency of the English language when it's spoken that wouldn't activate, that could activate something in your, you know, in your brain stem or something in order to turn you into Some kind of zombie like. Yeah.

Jason: Creature. Like a magic spell. You say the wrong words and it breaks the human brain.

Steve: Yeah, something. Something, something frequency based or something. I don't, I don't know. Yeah. I think that's what I would, that I would What I would focus on I think. So you'd hit the science books. I'd hit the science or have a wacky Professor show up, but he happens to know a lot more about this than he does in the movie.

You know. Sure. Yeah. Because it's it's too abrupt. That shift is just way too abrupt. It's still like what's happening because they have you thinking it's like a typical zombie virus and then oh plot twist and now we have to Spend the rest of the movie Deciphering what that might be and the way they do it is just so Seemingly arbitrary.

Jason: Yeah, so you're trying to make it more grounded and more real, which I completely respect and often do for films. It's kind of funny to be on the other side of that. I think though that I got caught in the spell of this film. I think relaxing at nighttime here, uh, you know, late in the year and, uh, really trying to make sense.

I got swept up and caught up. into the flow and the spell of it. So I enjoyed that it wasn't grounded. I think that made it work for me a little bit better. Whereas I imagine you doing one arm pushups at five in the morning really didn't get swept up in the spell so much. You were, your brain was like annoyed and looking for ways in which this could be real and something that you could chew on, uh, you, something you could grab hold of and, uh, understand the concept, feel grounded in.

firmly rooted in what was happening. So I really think it depends a lot on the mood you're in when you watch this movie and how many one arm pushups you can do.

Steve: Me and my Roy rage again. It's not good for watching these movies in the morning.

Jason: It's all that, uh, bull semen. It's really not compatible with enjoying this film.

No, uh, you know, I think your version, your perception of this film is completely valid and very realistic. I don't think you missed anything. I don't think you didn't get the point. I think it's just one read. I would be curious though, if in a different moment... If you were, say, flying over the ocean on a commercial airliner late at night and accidentally hit the button for this film instead of what you actually wanted to watch, if it wouldn't have swept you away, you know, it might have pulled you in, like sucked you into its gravimetric pull and you would have enjoyed it a little bit more.

I don't know. I don't know. I guess we'll never know because it's done. We'll never know,

Steve: yeah. It's one and done,

Jason: but we can find out what the audience thinks and if they're divided. So as far as questions for the audience to answer, I think we can start with a simple, did you like it? Was this good? Did you enjoy it?

And maybe with a little bit of a follow up question of what time of day was it and how many pushups had you done while you were watching it? That's the

Steve: ultimate question. Don't fill up our inbox. Okay, we have

Jason: limited bandwidth on it, so. So, uh, any other questions? Anything else that you would want to hear from the audience about this one?

I think there's a lot that they could talk about, but anything you actually care about? Would you

Steve: do a sequel to this? Yeah. If you were going to spin it into a sequel? Do you want one? Yeah. Yeah. And where would you go with it? Would they leave the, the basement? And would you turn it more into a, um, The Last of Us or A Walking Dead

Jason: type of scenario?

Thirties and thirties of miles per day. Right?

Steve: Or a Fast and the Furious? Where they steal a car and go cross country? How would you handle it?

Jason: Yeah, uh, what was that, um, peninsula? Where they just drive around and run over thousands of zombies. I like that one. I know it's

Steve: controversial, but I really enjoyed that movie.

It was like a Grand Theft Auto. It was! Grand Theft Auto, but uh,

Jason: But with zombies. But with zombies, yeah. With Korean zombies. Uh, yeah, so I guess an obvious way to go with a sequel would be to go bigger. All right, go a little more expensive, go broader, right? But, uh, for me, I think you, you kind of end it where it is.

Uh, if you're going to do more, I'm, I think you'd have to sit down and really think long and hard about how to maintain that spell that I talked about where the viewer is actually interested in trying to make sense of the reality or lack of reality that's been established so far. So that could get pretty weird pretty quick.

I don't know if it's something that people would want to explore a lot more, um, that or maybe a Saturday morning cartoon, I guess would be the other way to go with this. Pontypool.

Steve: The cartoon.

Jason: That's good. It means bridgey bridge in French or something like that. Or does it? Good. All right. So as I said, I will put the radio drama. It's about an hour. I'll put a link to it in the show notes, uh, as well as the movie, which. I think you can probably find for free somewhere. It's available all around.

Um, it was award winning, so it's not hard to find. And then, uh, what was, oh, and the novel, right? So the novel was a little bit harder to track down, but might be interesting. I'll, uh, I'll try to mention it if I do actually read a lot of it and have anything interesting to say. Maybe that'll pop up on the list at some point in the future.

Anything else before we wrap this one? That's it. All right. So thank you to the people who made this project. I actually really enjoyed it and my partner Not so much, but he got his workout in so that's what matters. Thank you to the listeners as always Please stay away from those like and subscribe buttons Next week any thoughts?

What are we gonna get into? Should we do another story break? Should we review something else? Christmas movies, what, what should we do? Anything

Steve: could happen. It could be a story break about a Christmas theme Concept we have you just never know you're gonna have to listen in.

Jason: Wow, you heard it here first folks My partner's writing a Christmas movie.

I can't wait to hear all about it. That was supposed

Steve: to be under wraps

Jason: All right, well, thank you again and we will talk to you soon. Thanks. Take care everybody