From time to time, I stumble across movies that I know nothing about, and under normal circumstances probably wouldn't be that inclined to see. Even as an avid horror buff, low budget titles like this tend to slip through the net usually simply due to their lack of big name distribution.
Let's hope that with "The Signal" however, this doesn't happen.
Why? Because this movie is powerful, thoughtful and downright terrifying in its execution.
The movie opens with a young couple, Mya and Ben, in a tryst where it soon becomes apparent that Mya is married but very much not in love with her husband, Lewis.
Suddenly the TV is blasted on, transmitting a noisy psychedelic signal which is echoed throughout every other media form from radio to mobile phones.
Mya leaves Ben to return home to her husband only to find everyone going crazy... possibly even her own husband. Thrown into a violent and chaotic world, the story focuses on the three of them and the truth about their intertwining relationship as the city of Terminus literally goes to hell around them.
The film's three directors each take on board a different aspect of the overlapping narrative, with the running time evenly divided into 3 parts. Transmission 1 examines the initial outbreak and its effects on the main protagonists. Transmission 2 looks at the ensuing madness from the perspective of one of the afflicted (a very creepy concept which is notoriously tough to execute, but is worked to almost perfection here), and laces it with more than just a smattering of very black humour. Transmission 3 ties up the loose ends of the plot and weaves them all together in order that all main characters collide in a chaotic but much needed denouement.
Brutal, dark and completely absorbing, this grainy DV effort is always believable and therein lies its power. In a society where media has taken over every facet of our lives, technology is rife for abuse, and this movie exploits that paranoia to great dividends.
This original chiller is the American equivalent of "28 Days Later" mixed with Romero's "The Crazies" via Stephen King's novel "Cell".
Some visual and plot aspects may have suffered due to budgetary constraints, but therein also lies its charm.
"The Signal" will surprise, thrill and terrify. In short, another example of modern horror at its brutal and most thoughtful best.
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