Director – David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Cast – Anessa Ramsey, Matthew Stanton, Sahr Ngaujah, AJ Bowen, Justin Welborn, Scott Poythress, Cheri Christian
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Signal is one of those horror films that just gets so much buzz around the horror scene that you just have to see it for yourself and find all the fuss is about. I will admit, the fashion in which this film is displayed is pretty original. This film came about thanks to Jacob Gentry winning the 48 Hour Film Festival with his entry…The Hap Hapgood Story(the beginning of the film is actually a short clip from his winning entry). The plot is broken up into three “transmissions”, with each transmission written and directed by a different person. The idea is pretty cool, and somewhat reminds me of Paris Je’Taime, which was directed by multiple people in multiple segments.
The first transmission is very apocalyptic, with some kind of signal being broadcasted from any device that uses a broadcast system like televisions, cell phones, and even AM/FM radios. We see carnage on the streets and in apartment complexes with people killing each other at random. We see friends turn on friends, and in violent ways. However they are not zombie-like at all, they are capable of having conversation, and using thought. The second transmission was more comical, and was a break from the extreme carnage we saw in the first transmission. The third transmission somewhat ties everything together, with a love triangle finally coming to a bittersweet conclusion amid all of the chaos.
This film is pretty unique, and that is really what I enjoyed the most about this film. We rarely, if ever, see horror films like this. The amazing Japanese/Hong Kong/South Korean film Three…Extremes had multiple directors, but each with different stories that do not tie into each other, leaving The Signal to it’s own unique way of presentation in a horror film.
I really enjoyed the first transmission of the film. It left me just thinking to myself “WOW!”. It had a very 28 Days Later feel, but with more detail into the destruction of society and the carnage that went on immediately after “the signal” went out. The second transmission was a bit silly to me, and I really did not enjoy it very much. Sure it was comical, and had some funny scenes , but I felt that it went on way too long and detrimented from the film. The second transmission did get us more in touch with the characters and what was going on, but it was too much of a break from the rest of the film with the way it was delivered to us. The third transmission put the love story(basis of the main characters of the film) together and gave us the climax to the film. It was not nearly as good as the first transmission, but was a vast improvement from the second transmission. I understand that this film provides a lot of social commentary(George A. Romero anyone???) into how society views mass media and how we let it dictate our lives, and I liked that aspect of the film. There are several different theories thrown into the film as to what “the signal” really is, and the one most focused on has to do with the signal making us very vulnerable to manipulation. Quite a few times I’ve had my “alternative thought” friends try and convince me that the “New World Order” controls the media and uses it to manipulate us. If you are one of those thinkers, then this should be a film to add to your DVD collection. Heh.
Aside from the vast amount of praise horror fans have given this film…it is not without it’s flaws. First and foremost, this film is pretty darn confusing. Sure after a while I was able to “get” the film, but it still was delivered in a way that was not so much “thought provoking”, but really just plain CONFUSING! With time the film settles down and you can make whatever sense you want of it, but for the most part you may find yourself confused and quite bored with the second transmission. I do respect the three directors for opting for an artistic horror film instead of a slash and gash or zombie type film that this film could have easily been turned into. However I just did not dig the film as much as I wanted to, and felt that most of the tension and paranoia was left for the first transmission and then sprinkled over the last two transmissions.