The Signal

"Good"

The Signal Review


Though in plot it shows more devotion to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse and Hideo Nakata's Ringu, David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry's The Signal is, essentially, very American in its paranoia. Set against New Year's Eve in the fictitious city of Terminus, some pretty freaky stuff starts happening when every electrical device starts radiating a mysterious signal. Without warning, random people start lopping off heads, slitting and stabbing with garden shears, and plain old bludgeoning people to death for no apparent reason.

Shot on digital video in Atlanta for a (comparatively) paltry budget, this techno-thriller/horror hybrid isn't bashful in its hysteria. Besides the decapitated heads and sledged-in faces, we get drilled appendages, chemical burns, baseball-bat beatings, electrocution, and, at its most humorously grotesque, the business-end of an air pump to the neck. But as it turns out, these gory theatrics are for tapestry's sake: At the heart of all the mayhem is an old-fashioned love triangle between a husband, his wife, and the tattooed fellow she's sleeping with.

It's when Ben (Justin Welborn) awakens from a post-coital nap next to Mya (Anessa Ramsey) that the titular signal first appears, interrupting a televised horror film that looks like a backyard remake of Wolf Creek (it's actually a short film by director Gentry). The effects of the pulsing signal aren't fully comprehended until Mya comes home to her husband Lewis (fitfully-creepy AJ Bowen) and his buddies, hypnotized by the fluid palpitations that have interrupted the ballgame. A few minutes later, Lewis has bashed in one friend's head and Mya has escaped only to find her hallway filled with corpses and blood-splattered slaves to the oscillating noise. She makes her way out with her friend Rod (Sahr Ngaujah), intent on meeting Ben at Terminal 13 and fleeing to the countryside.

Needlessly, the film is broken up into three separate transmissions to give the floor to each of the film's directors. Despite these framed interruptions, this cheap-o thrill-ride has a consistent tone and, ironically, rarely stoops to cheap-o scare tactics. This falters in the middle segment where Lewis drops in on Clark (Scott Poythress) and some neighbors, unwavering in his belief that they know where Mya is. Focus is lost, leaving the tension partially disintegrated and the film almost spirals into buffoonery that wouldn't be out of place in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. These fatty tricks ultimately confound what is otherwise an engaging hybrid, but as horror films go, it's strikingly effective in its violent theatrics.

Though it precariously dangles between zombie picture and ghost-in-the-machine nightmare, the directors avoid easy mechanics and anchor all the freak-outs to the central drama. Visceral even in its subdued moments, The Signal is too aware of its structure to be considered anything but a commendable exercise. The scenarios and metaphors are relevant enough, however, to deem it a good start to the year in horror.

Tickle Me Elmo went really extreme.



The Signal

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 10th July 2014

Box Office USA: $4.7M

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Low Spark Films, Automatik Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 39 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry

Producer: Alexander A. Motlagh, Jacob Gentry

Starring: as Nic Eastman, as Dr. Wallace Damon, as Haley Peterson, as Mirabelle, as Jonah Breck

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.