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The Signal (2007)

DVD Cover (Magnet Releasing)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Sci-Fi Horror
Directors:
David Bruckner David Bruckner
Dan Bush Dan Bush
Jacob Gentry Jacob Gentry
Starring:
Anessa Ramsey Anessa Ramsey
Sahr Ngaujah Sahr Ngaujah
AJ Bowen AJ Bowen
Matthew Stanton Matthew Stanton
Suehyla El-Attar Suehyla El-Attar

7.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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A horror film told in three parts, from three perspectives, in which a mysterious transmission that turns people into killers invades every cell phone, radio, and television. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 01, 2008
There are very few films that leave me speechless. "The Signal" is one of them. I remember when the film first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. There was a lot of advance buzz about the picture and it was one of the first to get snatched up by a distributor. Flash forward one year and the film finally saw a release date, but was dumped in a few theatres and then quickly forgotten. I, myself, passed on seeing it a couple of times in favor of more mainstream fare like "Diary of the Dead" and "Rogue". But, "The Signal" truly is something special. It is one of the most ferocious and original horror films of recent years, and the best horror film of 2008. It's the most insanely entertaining blend of comedy and horror since, dare I say -- "Evil Dead". That's right, I am saying that this film is the best comedy/horror film since "Evil Dead". I might call it a masterpiece. In fact, I think I will.

The film is told in three transitions, with the events beginning late one night when a strange signal starts breaching the airwaves of televisions, radios, telephones, etc. Anyone who watches and listens to the signal is turned into a bloodthirsty, yet rational, killing machine. The signal tricks the brain and makes people see things that are not really there, causing them to act violently and kill anyone they see. We first meet Mya (Anessa Ramsey), who is at the apartment of her lover, Ben (Justin Welborn), when the signal first hits. She heads home, where her husband Lewis (A.J. Bowen) is watching television with friends. Before long, Lewis has killed one of his friends, and by the time Mya gets out of the shower, half of her apartment building is in a chaotic state. The second transition involves a group of people who band together in a small suburban home, trying to figure out what's going on and just what they need to do. There, we meet Clark (Scott Poythress), Anna (Cheri Christian) and the corpse of Anna's husband, Ken. Finally, the third transition takes place at the Terminus Station, as Ben and Clark look for Mya, all the while pursued by Lewis, who just won't seem to stay down for very long.

I have not seen a film like "The Signal" in a very long time -- something so clever and so original. The film was directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry, with each one of them directing one of the three various transitions. They treated each separate transition like a separate film, and it shows. Each transition differs in style and tone, with the second one seeming the most like a comedic horror film and the first one falling more squarely into the genre of horror. The third one amps up the action and seems almost Carpenter-esque. Of the three, I would definitely say I thought the second transition was the most entertaining, but if you remove any of the three transitions, the film would suffer greatly. And, I also need to mention the blood and gore. This is the way you do blood and gore in a horror film. There's so much of it, but it never becomes an eyesore like it does in a film like "Saw". You get everything from a severed head being reanimated to a woman getting sprayed in the eye with roach spray until she looks like Sloth from "The Goonies".

The performances here are universally solid, with standouts coming from Scott Poythress as Clark, A.J. Bowen as Lewis and Justin Welborn as Ben. Everyone in the film adds a real sense of honesty to their roles, and they don't just treat their characters like disposable horror movie characters -- they treat them like they should, as real people. The film was shot entirely on digital, and it has this nice grainy quality about it that comes across especially in the opening sequence, with that wonderful title sequence. "The Signal" shows just what you can do with a limited budget and a ton of imagination and talent. I don't know if I have sold this film enough. It's the best horror film I've seen in 2008 and one of the best horror films I have ever seen. I would absolutely now include this in my favorite horror films of all-time, and it depresses me that the picture did not receive more recognition when it was released. It deserves it. And you deserve to see it.

So, in closing -- check out "The Signal". I think it will knock your socks off the way it did mine. You never know what's going to happen next, and then when it does, all you can do is smile...or cringe. Either way, rock on. 10/10.
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Farley #1: Farley - added 07/01/2008, 11:21 PM
I bought the DVD last week, and I love this movie. Great movie.
Chad #2: Chad - added 07/05/2008, 10:11 PM
Agreed all around, this was a great one. They owe a little credit to King for his "Cell" novel, but regardless, I enjoyed the hell out of this film. 10/10.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 07/05/2008, 10:36 PM
Too bad this was in the works before The Cell was.
Chad #4: Chad - added 07/05/2008, 10:47 PM
This movie premiered on January 22, 2007. Throw in a year or so for writing and filming it, and - holy shit - Cell was released in January of '06. Want to go back further? The plot for Cell was revealed well before its actual release date.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 07/05/2008, 11:17 PM
I've read a lot about this whole situation. The "The Cell vs The Signal" dealy. And after all I've read, it's The Signal that was in the makes first.
Chad #6: Chad - added 07/06/2008, 12:27 AM
It's "Cell", not "The Cell." And link up what you've got.
Tristan #7: Tristan - added 07/06/2008, 12:30 AM
Oh fuck if I know. I read this stuff like, last year.
And Cell, the Cell, you're just nitpicking.
bluemeanie #8: bluemeanie - added 07/07/2008, 02:27 PM
I have to jump in on this. "The Signal" was filmed in and around Atlanta and I heard about that project in development long before "Cell" was on the radar. I remember hearing rumblings of "The Signal" and the short film it was based on back in 2005.
bluemeanie #9: bluemeanie - added 07/07/2008, 02:29 PM
And, at the most, they owe King a credit for, "Proving he could write something worse than "From A Buick 8".
Chad #10: Chad - added 07/07/2008, 04:25 PM
Alright, I'm not going to debate this one, since I'll admit that I was sort of talking out my ass (I have no clue which came first, but at a glance, it seemed that Cell did). Now then, how could you not like Cell? I'll admit that I was a little irked at the missing two pages (anyone who has read it will know what I mean), but I got over that after I thought about it a bit and realized what he was going for.
bluemeanie #11: bluemeanie - added 07/07/2008, 05:35 PM
I have had a difficult time with all of King's work post-accident. "Cell" felt in the same league as "Dreamcatcher". I just didn't enjoy it. I love a lot of King's work and keep waiting for a return to form, but it has not happened yet.
Chad #12: Chad - added 07/07/2008, 06:22 PM
I'll agree that some of his recent work hasn't been up to snuff, but I simply can't say that about Cell. It's rare that I come across a book that I can read from start to finish with zero breaks, but Cell was one such book. It's not his best, granted, but it's certainly in the upper half of his bibliography.

On that subject, I have to say that I'm pessimistic about the film adaptation. I love Eli Roth and I think he'll make the initial "outbreak" scenes memorable as hell, but I just don't see him pulling off the rest of the story.
Tristan #13: Tristan - added 07/07/2008, 11:10 PM
So I'm gonna go on recording saying I loved Cell, even though I felt it was substandard. And fuck you Chad, for getting up in my face with no proper knowledge on the subject.
Chad #14: Chad - added 07/08/2008, 12:17 AM
I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth, what can I say.
Edd #15: Edd - added 02/02/2009, 11:26 AM
I didn't get the ending. Still great 10/10
Lucid Dreams #16: Lucid Dreams - added 08/02/2009, 02:31 PM
Pretty good movie, I love Transmission II 8/10
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