The Signal Reviews
Sometimes seeing the signal makes you crazy...sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes people die from multiple blows to the head...sometimes they don't. Sometimes the entire world (or at least city) is consumed by the madness...other times people don't seem to understand that their is utter anarchy in the streets. Sometimes a canister of pesticide will make you blind, other times it just makes your eyes sting for a moment or two. Sometimes it's a comedy, sometimes its a drama and other times it's a horror flick.
The constantly shifting perspective completely kills all attempts to build tension and the characters are all down right stupid. Why am I supposed to care about a bunch of adolescent adults acting like children? The female love interest in particular is the worst kind of heroine cliche.
Now I will give the filmmakers props for making a movie that looks descent in 13 days for $50k, but SHAME on them for going forward with this script. The Signal could have been really good, but instead it just ends up becoming a crapticopia of tedious nonsense.
Low budget horror flicks are a pain in the ass nowadays. So many distributors are releasing mediocre films in hope of easy money. The fans of the genre will probably watch any movie that has some terrifying eyes and some blood on the movie poster. 'The Signal' started with an interesting beginning but what happened then?
A mysterious signal that shows on the TV, comes out from the radio and phones, fucks up the minds and turns people in to killers. That's the story. But there's gotta be more, right? Ok, there's Ben and Mya who have an affair. It simply ain't interesting.
'The Signal' doesn't know what it wants to be. The movie has three chapters, all directed by three different directors. I don't know who directed which chapter but like in so many other movies that have too many minds controling the outcome, 'The Signal' turns out to be a mess.
The first chapter was very interesting. It reminded me of '28 Days Later', slowly developing the interest of the viewer. It's not explained what has happened, so you'd think that at some point, something would be said. You'd think?
When the second chapter starts, 'The Signal' suddenly turns in to a black comedy. Why's that? It felt really disappointing and I thought that it would only be a small period of the movie. Then the third chapter started and it continued as the same with small influences of David Lynch's style. One movie, divided in three chapter's with one story, directed by three men. And it seems as if the only one who knows what he's doing was the first chapters director.
Another major fault is that there's like zero character development. The lead characters aren't interesting at all, nothing is said of their past, how they got in to their situations in their lifes. Three chapters have three different lead characters. All of 'em are connected with some way but it just doesn't get interesting at all.
The cinematography, on the other hand, is very nice. Like I said earlier, the film reminds me of '28 Days (and Weeks) Later', so those who liked the look in there, will surely like the camera work in 'The Signal'. When there's some blood and gore (and it ain't that often..), it's done extremely well. There where some scenes that even looked original, which is nice 'cause the films of the genre look so often the same.
I don't know. I feel so disappointed. It started well, continued horribly and ended terribly. Nothing is explained and it just feels as if the writers themself had lost the purpose of the film. The premise of the story was good so in better hands, maybe this could've been something satisfying?
An awesome, original, independent horror film. Divided into three distinct parts, all featuring the same characters within the same narrative, but written and directed by three different directors, the film manages to stay fresh throughout, mixing the tone, providing some fun, and becoming trippy, but nevertheless intriguing.
The story is set in the city of Terminus. The new year is approaching, but the world may be in trouble. A mysterious signal is being emitted from every TV, phone, and radio in the area, causing anyone who stares at it long enough to become mesmerized in some way, leading them to perform acts of violence. At the center of this particular story, the lead characters are a wife, her lover, and her husband. Each of these characters are separately the stars of each distinct act, or "transmission," as it is called in the film.
The film opens with an admittedly creepy as well as bizarre couple of minutes from another film, before getting into this story, where the first act functions as a drama/horror film. The second act lightens things up at first, working (well) as a very dark comedy, with the characters being very much aware of the genre cliches. The third act settles back into thriller territory, as well as trying to deliver a meaning to the circumstances seen in this film.
Lewis Denton: The TV must've gotten into his head and told him to kill you.
Anna: Yeah, that's what happened to Ken. He was watching TV and it made him go bad.
[two people run from a man chasing them with a chainsaw in the background]
Clark: This is without a doubt the most fucked up day in the history of mankind. We should go back inside.
Anna: [cheerful] Who wants cocktails?
I had no idea what I was getting into with this film, beyond a basic idea of the premise. I was incredibly happy with how offbeat, yet well made this whole thing was. Each act is distinct, working well for different reasons. The first two in particular have some pretty great things going for it. The first is incredible due to its sound design and the almost claustrophobic hand held style running throughout. The second works due to how well the comedy is balanced, as it is just thrown into this movie, most likely catching you off guard, all while still remaining incredibly bloody. The third is still well made, but bringing in an almost existential reasoning behind the signal is not something easily done within a half an hour.
So much of this movie is very well done. If anyone is looking for an original horror film, this is certainly a good place to start. Its well crafted, well acted, plenty bloody, entertaining, and intriguing.
Clark: It was self defense.
Anna: You chopped his head off!
Lewis Denton: He had it coming... probably. These are wild times. Everybody's been driven to desperate measures. I guess this happens to everybody.
The bizarre, and admittedly awkward, tone shift half an hour in will certainly preclude the movie from any sort of widespread recognition, but I thought it added something vital and interesting to a somewhat tired premise. I think genre-bending is still quite difficult for a lot of people to accept, which makes things harder on The Signal's kind of average delivery of its humor, but all in all the reception is indicative of American need for tidy packaging.
Not just great as a low-budget horror film, but great period, The Signal deserves a view from just about anyone. Shame this didn't get much of a theatrical release.
The story is divided into three "chapters".
The first is extremely simple, yet very creepy and tension filled look at the "begining of the end". I was really impressed by this chapter and it gave me high hopes for the rest of the film.
Chapter two was the continuation of the story, but with a "dark humor" twist (a la "Sean Of The Dead"), which on it's own wouldn't have been so bad...but as a follow-up to the powerful first chapter, was a bit disapointing.
The third chapeter was meant to "wrap things up" but is kind of all over the board and ultimately a weak ending to what is a very powerful begining.
If they would have just carried the look and feel of the first chapter, through the entire film...this could have been a really amazing piece of work.
"The Signal" succeeds in so many ways where other movies of this type have failed it is hard to keep track.
This is definitely taut, gory, tension filled horror. This will get under your skin as the social mores are lost to the "signal" which has had an impact on our primitive brain allowing us to find vicious murder not only acceptable, but a curiosity to be examined.
Broken into three acts all directed by different players from the film each part takes on its own special nuance, each to be savored.
Madness is let loose in Terminus and there are few who do not succumb to it. There is nothing spared in the depiction of the carnage and then...we break to laughter.
Some might say that this also breaks the tension or screws up the pacing, but I disagree. This movie was able to achieve this with very little "camp," but real comedic virtue amidst a virtual slaughterhouse. You will cringe and then you will laugh out loud. Not because it is cheesy, but because it actually gets funny and then goes back to horror...and back again. Sometimes it is a nervous laughter that will grip you and sometimes it will be comedy served on a platter.
You won't know whether to hold on tight for fear or tears of gut-busting laughter.
The vacillation between the two genres is so effective and seamless that you really have to see it to appreciate how well it has been done.
I watched this movie on recommendation and I am so glad that I did. It is not high on any "I watched this list" that I have seen so I hope that word of mouth will get it around as this movie is really one that you should not miss if you are a fan of the genre.
When a mysterious transmission invades every cellphone, TV and radio, it turns every human who comes into contact with it into mindless killing machines.
The story is divided into three parts (Transmissions): Part I is "Crazy in Love". It tells the story of a woman, Maya, who is married to Lewis. She is also having a pre-marital affair with Ben. Maya and Ben plans to elope New Year's eve but all is not well when The Signal starts to spread. It tells the beginning of the end through the eyes of Maya. Its probably safe to say that this bit is the scariest out of the three. When people just starts to kill each other without any logic or deep thought, that's probably the scariest thing that could happen to you.
So, we have Maya instantly thrown into a chaotic world. What does she do? Put on her headphones and head straight to Terminal 13, the meeting place of her and Ben.
The second transmission is "The Jealousy Monster". This time, the story is focused on Lewis, Maya's husband. A couple of characters is introduced but only one is given a bigger part: Dan the landlord. Lewis tracks down Maya but ends up in some house. Having been exposed to the transmission, we witness Lewis turn from a guy to a crazy guy. This bit is without a doubt the funniest one. Not toilet humor crass jokes but rather a dark comedy. If Transmission 1 tells the beginning of the end, Transmission 2 tells you what will happen if you come in contact with the Signal.
And alas, we have Transmission 3. It tells the story of Ben, Maya's secret lover. Apparently, Ben is also looking for Maya. But he ended up in the back of Lewis's trunk with a big gash in his head. With the help of Dan the landlord and with Lewis hot on his tail, Ben heads to Terminal 13. The following sequences is probably the freakiest part of the whole film. You keep guessing: was Lewis actually Ben and Ben is Lewis? What happens to Maya? Did Dan die from asphyxia? All these questions were actually never really answered. It was so blurry until the last shot of Maya rolling into tears with the headphone in her head.
I'm glad it ended that way. It was not answered yes but maybe there were no questions at all. That's the beauty of this film. It does not spoon feed everything and it doesn't really tell the spread of the Signal in a massive scale but instead, we are constrained into three characters. You can call it experimental, horror, black comedy or even a love story.
Me, I call it "The Signal". (omg, that was so cheesy lol)
A city, an apartment complex, a small household, the streets. It does not matter where you are: for the noise will catch up to you either way. "The Signal" is a frightening, ingenious independent horror film about mysterious transmissions that are communicated by radio and television broadcasts. It is also a story divided into three simple acts; each meant to say something interesting about human nature - with the overall message divided amongst several people. They're normal inner and outer city residents; living the good and decidedly normal life until strange colors and images start to invade their flat screens. It isn't long before their neighbors and close friends go mad and embark on little individual killing sprees.
To me, there isn't much sense in me describing all three acts of the movie in extreme detail; so I'll just tell you how it all goes down. As the movie begins, we meet a blonde woman named Mya who is cheating on her husband Lewis (A.J. Bowen) with a skinny tattooed guy named Ben (Justin Welborn). She returns home after spending part of the night at his place, only to find Lewis and his friends fretting over the images that grace the screens of their televisions. We're told that the game was on; but now, there is no game. It doesn't take long for Lewis to become delusional and unreasonably pissed off (usually about ridiculous things), and at that, he kills one of his friends, while the other one (a black dude, of course) escapes. Mya also flees the scene and meets up with that very black dude, although it's safe to say that they're not together for long; even though it is worth mentioning that he has a cool little home-made weapon that he uses to slay the crazies.
Another segment focuses on a suburban home, where a whole lot goes down. The house belongs to a woman named Anna and her husband, who she has killed after he caught on to the crazy virus thingy. This is a shame, for they were planning a big New Year's Eve party with a lot of people planning to attend, and many decorations already set up. But now, there are more serious matters at hand; and Lewis arrives at the house (as does a neighbor named Scott, played by Scott Poythress) with a tank full of insecticide, which he uses to blind his victims. This is sort of an intriguing part of the movie, since it deals with a number of different tones. While in the house: there is dark and deadpan comedy, gruesome horror, discreet social satire, and relentless apprehension. It's both humorous and scary; because to me, the situation feels real, and so do a good number of these people - whether the movie intends for them to be objects for satire or not.
The problem that critics seem to have with the movie is the fact that perhaps it is attempting to tackle too much at one time and try too many things at once. Indeed it is; but rather than scoff at how uneven and absurd it gets in some instances, I was left intrigued and satisfied. It's a brutal, diabolical experience of a movie, and while it may not be perfect, it has some welcome human touches laced with aspects of comedy and genuine terror. It may not be as original as it wants to be either; but oh, what the hell. This is still a damn engaging movie.
Made on a relatively low budget of only $50,000 and shot in just thirteen days; the work that went into "The Signal" is pretty darn impressive. For an indie outing, I'd say it's nicely played, and for me it works. There are some clever moments where the influence and inspiration to make the film shines through; such as one where the black dude's decapitated head is brought back to life a la "Re-Animator". True, not all the scenes are particularly memorable, but almost all of them are worth praising. There is suspense, there are scares, and there's also some decent human drama. I never found it absolutely compelling - or even emotionally resonant - but the movie makes it its job to scare us, and it does that quite well. Just try to forget the fact that it kind of resembles a Stephen King novel with a similar premise, and you will probably be alright. But then again...maybe not.
The actors are convincing, and the direction from the visionary threesome - David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry - is suitably riveting. For something that cost so little to make, it does a whole lot more than what most Hollywood horror movies do. That's saying something; given that I'm not one to just dismiss every Hollywood horror production that comes along. I am accepting and open-minded, always willing to have fun when fun does indeed come my way, but nowadays; the independent films are taking the world by storm, and "The Signal" skillfully feeds the need for unforgiving and savage entertainment. One moment bleak and another breathtakingly intense; if this is what someone can do with a handheld movie camera, I'd think our future is a whole lot brighter than we initially thought. You know, as long as the movie doesn't imitate life.