Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Horrors: The Signal (#3)

Wherein I attempt to watch 31 horror films over the course of October. 31 horror films that I have never seen before, from obscure to acclaimed classics. We'll see how well I go in actually finding the time to watch and then write about them in some way.

I had heard a lot of great things about this late 2000s telecommunication horror flick. Told in triptych form, this film features three directors and has some nasty tricks up its sleeve. I had had the film sitting here to watch for a while now, but the recent festival viewing of the abhorrent V/H/S lessened my desire to see it based on the name of David Bruckner. I needn't have worried (as much) as The Signal has plenty of ideas to make for an entertaining films and, despite the multiple director set-up, it mostly all works as a cohesive whole.

Obviously taking some, if not large swathes of, inspiration from George Romero's The Crazies (curiously, the remake of that film would come out two years after the cinema release of The Signal... art imitating art imitating art?), the premise sees people turning into violent monsters after an unexplained signal across televisions, telephones, and radio alters their minds. It's a fun idea and one that M Night Shyamalan had attempted to play with in the laughable The Happening that same year. Obviously the film is a rather boutique take on the idea given it's budget of only $50,000, but the writing is clear enough that the message of our dependance on these gizmos and gadgets comes across succinctly and with the right about of entertaining zing.

I could have done without such an overtly comedic tone in the second act - it's almost trying to get Shaun of the Dead level guffaws out of the audience, but they don't quite materialise as frequently as I imagine they had anticipated - but I found the first segment a wonderfully scary piece of work, and the final act a genuinely touching piece of bloodied drama. I enjoyed the way stories were worked in to one another, how characters came and went as they would in every day circumstances, and I think they made the central relationship between Anessa Ramsey and Justin Welborn was a to-and-fro affair with constantly changing dynamics. I also thought that, given the budget, the filmmakers made great use of cinematography and art direction. It can be hard to make a film made on this little money look genuinely post-apocalyptic, but these three directors (well, two, given the middle one was predominantly set inside the one interior set) made it work.

Also, this:

The Signal? Small, but with enough tricks up its sleeve to count. B

1 comment:

Drew said...

This was a blind buy at my local going-out-of-business Blockbuster, and it has to have been one of the best dollars I've ever spent. It's small scale for an apocalypse film, but as a consideration of budget, all is forgiven.

I know some people are pretty cool toward the second act, but the way the lead actress mutters "I'm having a party" while she's covered in blood and delirious has always stuck with me.