Electronic Communication Brings the Crazy: The Signal is a Voyage into the Insane

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The Signal is an independent science fiction horror / psychological thriller film written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry and produced by Alexander A. Motlagh—four filmmakers who have been collaborating since 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia. The movie was completed for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival on a budget of only $50,000 and shot over the course of 13 days.

The Signal is told in three parts, in which all telecommunication devices broadcast only a mysterious “Signal” turning people into murderous psychopaths. The film is broken up into three chapters (“transmissions”), each of which had different directors during shooting. Each part manifests elements of the following genres: splatter film, black comedy, and a post-apocalyptic horror-love story.

Synopsis from www.wikipedia.com

Cellphones, telephones, radios, and televisions begin transmitting a signal that drives all who watch or listen insane and into homicidal rages. Not only homicidal rages, but lucid insanity is prevalent. These people actually are able to justify and rationalize why they are killing their loved ones, their neighbors, and strangers. The signal from the telecommunication sources are implanting hallucinations in the receiver’s minds and causing the worst parts of a person’s humanity to come to the forefront.

This movie is broken up into three separate “transmissions”. The first one starts out with a woman who is having an affair. On her trip back to her apartment, she starts seeing that everyone she bumps into is starting to act out in a definitely twisted manner. Two of her husband’s friends are visiting, and things turn violent pretty quickly. One friend is brained by a baseball bat, and the husband and the surviving friend have an altercation. The wife flees the apartment, to encounter people in the hallway being killed in front of her eyes (my favorite was the guy using pruning shears to kill folks). She hides away in another apartment. In the morning, she encounters the friend and they attempt to flee, except that the friend also has the “crazy” in him now. This first segment is the legitimate “horror” section of the film.

The second transmission (The Jealousy Monster) follows the husband after he escapes and encounters his wife’s boyfriend. This segment is more of a dark comedy versus full on horror, but it still does contain all of the horror tropes, including creative kills with a balloon pump, pesticide, and a shovel. This segment is more dedicated to the hunt of the wife by both the psychotic husband and her lover who was learned to somewhat control the dark thoughts. This segment is full of dark humor, funny/disturbing violence, and a complete disregard to what is considered “normal” in a horror movie. Overriding all of this is a throbbing bass line that is part of the communication emanating from the telecommunication devices. This sound ratchets up the tension as the humor fades and the true insanity comes flying out.

The third transmission falls along the lines of a horror/love story where both interested parties find the wife, and the final twisted showdown comes to a peak. Even in the ending, the line between what is actually happening and what is being fed into their minds by the signal is blurry.

I love this movie. Great acting, an original plot, and an excellent pace all come together to make this a highly enjoyable film, on a twisted, sick level. The character development was excellent. You actually built a rapport with the wife and her lover, and you could see the husband as the twisted, cruel creature he slowly becomes. For me, character development is one of the weakest parts of horror movies since the beginning of the 21st century. Horror has been more wrapped around body count versus developing characters who mean something to the viewer. These people aren’t just slasher bait.

One thing that really impressed me with this movie was the ending. There is no definite answer as to how the movie ends. The signal has affected everyone in some manner, and the movie seems to end in a few different ways before the actual ending. The final ending leaves the film wide open as to closure, but not in a way that you would be expecting a sequel.

I highly recommend this movie. With a budget of $50,000 and shooting being completed in 13 days, the crew and cast created an amazing horror movie that pushes the bounds of what we have been fed by the studios for the last decade.  

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