The Signal (2007) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Signal (2007)

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In a world over-saturated with zombies and psycho flicks, I almost passed The Signal by. I'm glad that I didn't.

The Signal is the story of small town driven insane by the titular frequency and follows three survivors as they try to escape from friends and neighbors transformed into psychotic killers. What sets the film apart from others like it is that those afflicted aren't mindless ghouls, ala 28 Days Later or The Crazies, but rather suffering from hallucinations that cause extreme paranoia and jealousy. It's a refreshing change because it keeps both the characters and the audience guess as to who, if anyone, can be trusted.

The Signal is a film in three parts, directed by three different directors. Parts one and three are fairly straight-forward horror, though part three gets a bit surrealistic towards the end, while part two is more of a black comedy with horror underpinnings. As disjointed as it may sound, the three segments actually flow together quite well to form a cohesive story. The directors could have applied the tone of any one segment and it would have made for a decent film, but the shifting tone only emphasizes the disparate realities each character is experiencing and thus makes it a far more interesting film.

Furthermore, despite the entire town being driven insane, the story really only focuses on a handful of characters: A pair of adulterous lovers, a jealous husband and a landlord who gets caught in the middle. It's a very human story at heart that is exacerbated by the deadly signal to horrific, and humorous, proportions. It's a welcomed change from the typical "band of survivors fighting zombies" motif that has been done to death.

If there's a weak point to The Signal it's easily segment three, which attempts to pin some sort of cause or reason to the murderous frequency. Then again, segment three also has the most unreliable narrator of the bunch, so perhaps it can be attributed to his own scrambled mind trying to create reason and order where there is none. There's also the bizarre, generic horror clip which begins the film. Maybe it was intended to be symbolic of the titular signal, or a commentary on how desensitized to violence we are as a society, but I found the effect more reminiscent of infamous cheese-fests like The Pod People. I'm interested to hear other interpretations of it, but as it stands it could have been cut without detracting from the film.

The cast is pretty good all around, though AJ Bowen really stands out as the antagonist Lewis, the husband who suspected his wife of cheating on him (quite rightly, too) even before being driven insane. Similarly, Scott Poythress brings a lot of humor to the film as Clark, quite possibly the last sane man in town trying to keep his friends and neighbors from being slain by crazies or slaying each other.

The Signal has some rough spots, but as a whole it's a decent horror film with some genuinely funny moments and a interesting way of keeping the audience wonder who to trust. It's worth a look, especially if you're sick of the typical zombie flick and want something a little more unique.

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Posted by Jacob

Filed under: 2011 Leave a comment
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