Pontypool and Someone Behind You – sometimes horror films are just a bit too intelligent and clever for their own good.
Pontypool is an independent film that doesn’t rely on a big budget or high production values or even that many actors and just one set. I’m normally a fan of independent horror as they tend to actual be interesting and have a real feeling of insecurity and macabre. The independents don’t rely on spectacle and have time to develop a far more intense world of horror. I have given up on American horror as it never scares me, tends to be re makes of Asian horrors that I by far prefer or use cheap shock tactics but without any real menace and certainly no psychological horror. But this film sounded really intriguing and said it was the best zombie movie out there, now I have a huge soft spot for Zombie’s doesn’t matter the movie if there’s Zombies I’m there. There are so many terrible zombie movies having been a staple of the B movie horror genre and still I love them. Zombies have always made me laugh truth be told but then a new wave of modern Zombie films started to emerge to replace the B movies. Also the Hollywood Zombie movie went from classics such as Dawn of the Dead to the genre killing spectacle that was the Resident Evil movies. Now while I like the re makes of Dawn of the Dead the follow ups lacked any real punch and the 1st Resident evil movie was brilliant but the less said about its awful sequels the better. But alas the Zombie film went from amusing with the clichéd jumps to some truly scary stuff like 28 days Later and Rec. So when an independent says it the best Zombie movie I though hell yes.
Now Pontypool is a creepy little slow burner that starts to unsettle you and then goes a bit too far so it’s not really that easy to follow and you are left feeling confused and a bit stupid. The story centre’s around a radio station and it 3 members of staff. On one cold dark morning shift maverick radio host Mazzy is spinning his slightly confrontational stories much to the annoyance of his producer that wants him just to report the news and weather and the amusement of the tech girl. While doing their morning program they get a news break about a protest that seems to be going out of control from their eye in the sky reporter. Now the entire story is told and seen from the point of view of these three inside their radio studio so we only know as much as they do and are as clueless to what’s going on as they are. We get our information from panicked phone calls and eye witness reports from their one man in the field.
The problem with the movie isn’t the slow burn start or the lack of visuals; I didn’t mind that all was left up to my imagination. When the scenes of people being eaten or strange mobs are descending on locations I could imagine what they looked like and knew that we were facing a zombie epidemic. The problem isn’t even the new twist on the Zombie genre which was actually a really interesting idea. The idea is that this bout of Zombieism is via an evolution in the way a virus is spread. This like 28 Day we have a virus turning people into a rambling mass of unthinking flesh eaters. But it’s even cleverer than that the virus is being spread through the English language. Somehow certain words in the English language have become infected and by saying them you become infected and slowly lose yourself as an individual. You see very little of the Zombies in fact its better when you don’t as it adds to the sense of isolation and confusion. The problem is the film gets too clever and starts not really making much sense expecting you to fill in all the blanks and understand a whole speech about how we need to learn how not to understand and by making no sense we can survive, which means that there’s a lot of nonsensically conversation on how to unlearn our understanding of the English language.
So here is what I have put together of the plot and tried to make sense of what was going on. The virus is in English only and only certain words, a cryptic message tells us that terms of endearment hold the most threat. So ideally we shouldn’t be speaking English to each other or using nice terms like sweetheart, which our characters seem to ignore as producer lady calls up her daughter and tells her “everything will be fine sweetheart” way to spread a zombie virus lady!!!! Ok other information that we learn, a cat called honey is missing and some of the Zombies may be wondering around with the missing cat’s poster. This I think is how the virus got spread people started looking for the lost cat used the word Honey (which is an endearing term and therefor infected) others overheard and got infected. So there you have it Zombie plague was spread by a missing cat there’s a new twist. Somehow when you get infected you start repeating the infected word and then go blank. Once in blank zombie mood you start to repeat whatever sound you here, one report from outside is people standing by a car imitating the sound of windscreen wipers. Noise draws the zombies to you so be quiet, which is a staple of the Zombie genre and so is the fact that when they find you they will eat you.
Other strange plot conclusions include the fact that this disturbance started outside the practice of a doctor who somehow escapes and crawl into the radio station through the window. By this point tech girl is whistling like a kettle clearly infected so doctor ushers Mazzy and producer into the sound proof both and them doesn’t explain what’s going on. Mazzy is acting skittish and weird and doctor is babbling about linguistics and radio receivers. From my understanding is the Zombies are like receivers they need a sound that they can respond to bouncing this sound of themselves and then for some reason eating people. Oh also another important fact is if the zombie doesn’t find a sound to respond to they vomit up loads of blood and die, which is the fate of poor tech girl. This is where I think you need to be a speech and language therapist or have a degree in linguistic or the English language because I don’t know what anyone is really talking about, I get the gist of the plot but really they could have made it a little more accessible my Ma in Contemporary Film didn’t save me from brain ache.
So what did I learn from Pontypool, don’t call your cat Honey, Kiss is kill and if in doubt drop a bomb on it!!!!!
Moving on I decided to follow up Pontypool with a bit of Asian Horror and a nice looking Korean film called Someone Behind You. Now I mainly choose this film because it was only 1hr 20min and my head was in pain from Pontypool so just wanted a nice little haunted school girl movie which the Korean do well. Now Tale of Two Sisters is my fav horror of all time so I put a lot of faith in Korean horror makers and always expect an interesting twist. Someone Behind You turned out to be a little more complicated than I was expecting, which may be due to brain fry from Pontypool but really I think it was just an unfortunate choice.
The story involves a family curse and the poor girl who is now affected by it. Somehow when you get cursed anyone you tick off decides they want to kill you until at last someone succeeds. So poor Gai-na (this is the way my subtitles spelled her name) is trying to recover from the shock of her Aunt getting butchered by her other Aunt in front of her eyes. This horrific scene is probably what passed the curse onto her. Now Gai-na is being haunted by some disfigured person telling her she’s next and people she knows are trying to kill her for reasons related to jealously. It was easy to follow for most of the film weaving a spooky tale of haunting, isolation and family tragedy as Gai-na tries to find out the route of the curse and how to survive it. All the while she is getting cryptic messages and help from the mysterious boy at school that it doesn’t take a genius to realise that only Gai-na can see.
So my money was on him either being a ghost trying to help her break the curse or a figment of her imagination creating a buffer zone for her own delusions. Now I was firmly expecting either ghost or she’s a crazy as the plot but no instead the film takes a strange turn and stops making sense instead bringing in another plot right at the end. It turns out that her boyfriend is in fact the son of a man her father fired who in a state of desperation burns down his house with the family inside. Somehow the boyfriend survived and grew up thinking of nothing but revenge and kills Gai-na’s parents and sets the house on fire in an attempt to kill Gai-na as well. Lucky for Gai-na she’s in the fencing club and some display swords have been knocked of the wall added to the perfect timing of her younger sisters arrival and they manage to kill crazy boyfriend and escape fire waking up in the hospital.
Now this would all be good if I hadn’t spent the entire film thinking it was some kind of supernatural enemy that was haunting our girl or that there was some family curse. This particular plot seems to be forgotten and instead a revenge thriller has appeared regardless of all we’ve seen so far. But just for added plot twists and confusion Gai-na through some dream flashbacks thinks she sees her sister with a knife. She wakes and low and behold sister tells her it’s all her fault and goes at her with a knife and the sisters wrestle with each other resulting in the death of younger sister. Gai-na is shocked and upset so who turns up but mystery boy to tell her he told her so. Gai-na sees the situation for what it is as she replays the events of her sister’s death. It was not younger sister that went mad it was Gai-na herself that lost the plot and decided to stab her sister to death, dum dum dum maybe Gai-na was mad the whole time maybe all those times she was attacked wasn’t because jealousy turned to murder and in fact she just kept attacking people.
I hear you say of course that makes so much sense, this is in fact a plot devise I’ve seen in Korean horror. Well mystery boy seems smug about the fact that he did tell her not to trust herself and after the flash back reveal that he was in fact never there we pretty much realise he must be a figment produced by her madness. Gai-na’s despair makes her turn on her own figment and stabs him in the chest only for him to smirk evilly and Gai-na fall down on the floor revealing a knife in her chest. Ah ha not only was she mad but he was a projection of another personality living in Gai-na by stabbing him she really stabbed herself and now is dead yes yes that makes sense. Well sorry but no it makes no sense because the last scene is a boy at school being bullied at school by a teacher, after being humiliated and left alone mysterious boy appears looking sharp in a suit, smirks and say do you want to kill him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What wait mystery boy wasn’t part of Gai-na in fact he seems to be a truly evil entity that prays on those who are weak, jealous or seek revenge. I have come to the conclusion that he is in fact the embodiment of this curse. At first he manipulated Gai-na’s family all the way back to her grandparents. He seems particularly fond of love triangles since brides always end up dead, then he found Gai-na and her revenge obsessed boyfriend and lastly he was able to make her crazy enough to kill her sister and herself. Now that that family is all dead he has found a new victim to hang around and the circle of violence starts again.
What did I learn about Someone Behind You, don’t watch it after Pontypool and beware attractive looking Korean boys in suits giving cryptic messages of who to trust, it’s better to ignore them!!!
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