The Signal

The Signal

2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0

Comments Comments (0)

The Signal commences with an homage to ’70s-era exploitation films, but its tale of cancerous modern technology is pure present-day. A trio of interrelated narratives, each directed by a different filmmaker (David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry, respectively), this low-budget horror film charts the fallout from a mysterious media transmission that cognitively rewires people into killers, and eventually turns out to be an imbalanced project that delivers increasingly diminishing returns. Sharing eerie similarities with Stephen King’s recent novel Cell (soon to be an Eli Roth cinematic gorefest), the story focuses on a pair of lovers, Mya (Anessa Ramsey) and Ben (Justin Welborn), and their attempt to escape both their home city of Terminus, as well as Mya’s homicidally jealous husband Lewis (A.J. Denton). The dangerous signal—which, on televisions, looks like a psychedelic, morphing inkblot screensaver—amplifies paranoia (“Everyone’s a suspect,” says a survivor, a statement that strives to turn the action into a metaphor for domestic terrorism) while unleashing a primordial homicidal rage. As it alters people’s fundamental view of the world, this mental condition, dubbed “The Crazy,” calls into question whether reality is a constant, self-determining entity, or merely a concept created by perception, a philosophical topic that The Signal tantalizingly (if hastily) addresses as its characters struggle to stay alive in their post-apocalyptic metropolis. That humanity has made itself vulnerable to such an attack by over-reliance on gadgetry isn’t an exceptionally fresh conceit. Yet at least during Bruckner’s opening segment, in which Mya flees her corpse-strewn apartment building, an unnerving sense of social order being suddenly, violently disrupted is milked for frenzied chills, despite illogical behavior such as Mya making herself defenseless to lurking psychos by blotting out the surrounding chaos via her CD player’s headphones. Alas, despite some head-smashing nastiness, Bush’s middle chapter, involving Lewis’s schizoid interactions with a homemaker (Cheri Christian) and a landlord (Scott Poythress), opts for Shaun of the Dead-style humor that alleviates much of the setup’s mounting terror, a mood that isn’t effectively reestablished by Gentry’s middle chapter and the Bush-helmed climax’s bloody conflict and hauntingly indefinite final note.

Buy
DVD
Distributor
Magnolia Pictures
Runtime
99 min
Rating
R
Year
2007
Director
David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Screenwriter
David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Cast
Justin Welborn, A.J. Bowen, Scott Poythress, Anessa Ramsey, Sahr Ngaujah