Friday, June 06, 2008

The Signal

David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry | 2007 | 99 min | US

In the city of Terminus something strange is going out on the airwaves. A signal transmitted over cell phones, radios, and televisions is turning citizens paranoid and aggressive. Okay, maybe not aggressive; maybe unpredictably, brutally violent.

The movie is divided into three acts, or 'transmissions,' each following a different point of a love triangle. The three characters weave in and out of strangers' and each other's lives and only the three parts together form a complete picture of their interactions. Notes are taken from J-horror, Romero, Raimi, and more of horror's greats. The film explores different moods, from dark satire to shock horror and a star-crossed love story. The moments of dark humour contained in the second part put me off, at first. However, those moments worked so well at disarming me before sudden hits of shocking violence that I found myself impressed with how easily I fell into the filmmakers' traps. The young actors involved do a great job with the material, often effectively turning on a dime when the signal demands.

The intended wider theatrical run was aborted when two audience members were stabbed by another during an early screening in Fullerton, California. Dang. It's too bad that this will have hurt the chance for the film to be seen by as many as it deserves, but it is worth tracking down on video. Though its influences are many and often obvious, the resulting collage makes The Signal a fresh and satisfying horror film.

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