Quantcast FIRST LOOK: THE SIGNAL review

FIRST LOOK: THE SIGNAL (June. 07) by Robg.

I’d like to think that you guys will just take my word for it when I say that THE SIGNAL is probably one of my favorite genre movies in years, and that you should go experience it fresh, spoiler-free and without knowing what’s in store for you. Because… for me to talk about it at all would give away a lot of it’s wonderful surprises.

But, I realize you’re here to read a review, so for all you wise movie-goers that are stopping here? Well done. Enjoy the movie when it opens February 22nd in theaters. For those that need some more convincing? Let’s carry on then!

THE SIGNAL is a film with 3 separate directors and 3 distinct styles for each act, or transmissions as it’s labeled at the beginning of each chapter. Now, it’s not an anthology. All the parts drive forward the same story, each one just does it from a different character’s perspective.

Granted, this kind of thing has been done before (Go, Pulp Fiction), but I assure you it’s never been done in quite this way, and I applaud the humble independent cast and crew (based out of Atlanta, Georgia) for putting together such an inventive, unique and original horror movie that the suits over at Hollywood only wish they could churn out.

The first act is from the perspective of Mya (played by the beautiful Anessa Ramsey, who reminds me of a young Amanda Wyss from the original Nightmare On Elm Street). She’s in an unhappy marriage and having an affair with Ben at the beginning of the movie. They both wake up to unexplainable static on the television. After failing to get a cell signal, Mya heads home and finds her husband Lewis in the middle of a heated argument with 2 of his friends whom are frustrated that they too are only getting static on the TV rather the ball game they all came over to watch.

Turns out, if you stare at the static signal long enough, you go absolutely crazy and try to kill everyone around you. Now, imagine that happening everywhere all at once, and that’s what Mya is suddenly in the middle of. What if you saw your husband brutally bash his friend over the head? And ran out to find all your neighbors killing each other as well?

This leads into the second act, which believe it or not, plays into some brilliant dark comedy! And when it’s funny, it is hilarious. This act is seen (for the most part) through the perspective of Lewis, who as we saw earlier was infected by “the crazy”. However, because we’re seeing it all from Lewis’s point of view, he doesn’t realize he’s crazy. I love that this puts us into the mind frame of someone who doesn’t realize they’ve totally lost it. Major kudos to actor AJ Bowen who plays Lewis, because he can go from sweet & hilarious to brutal and deranged in a heartbeat. And all the secondary characters we’re introduced to in this act are stand outs.

Finally, we catch up with Ben for the third act which shifts back to a more dramatic tone to complete the story of these 3 characters. Ben, played by Justin Welborn is probably the most sympathetic, soft-spoken and sweetest of the characters, having shown complete devotion to finding and making sure that Mya is ok. It makes following him for the last half easy. The only thing I can see people being mixed on is the film’s ending. I think I understood what was going on. But I might be wrong if I asked someone else for their thoughts on it.

I know what you’re thinking. A movie with 3 directors? And 3 different tones? Frightening? Then funny? Then dramatic? It can’t possibly work, can it? Well, it shouldn’t BUT IT DOES! And beautifully. I have to applaud all 3 directors David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry for working so closely together to mix genre conventions and craft such an brilliant movie.

Another thing that got me thinking after the screening? It’s not obvious, but like with all great horror films of each era, there’s an interesting social commentary that I think is being stated here, underneath the surface. Again, it’s not being bashed over our head (pun intended), but I spotted it, and it made me question exactly what the movie was trying to say. Because the people I saw it with all had theories, and it seemed like any one of us could be right. And I love any movie that makes you think and debate.

I can’t stress this enough, you just have to see this movie for yourself to truly “get it”. Trust me, it’s quite a ride. –Robg.

The Signal trailer

- by Robg. 6/07


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