Monday, April 13, 2009

The Signal (2008)

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 1/5

Lots of hype around this little indie film, but for the most part it really didn't live up to it. It's not bad as far as sci-fi horror films go - it has all the right ingredients - but there's something much too familiar about the entire thing. It's almost as though each scene, maybe each frame, can be directly linked to some previous film: Shaun of the Dead, Videodrome, The Ring, 28 Days Later, Evil Dead, Pulse, etc. etc.

The Signal is pretty straight forward in it's premise: One day, for some unexplained reason, everyone's TVs, radios and phones all start broadcasting this funky "signal" that turns people into murderous, rage filled killers. Anyone that sees or hears this signal long enough begins grabbing for weapons and killing everyone in their path.

This is where the film works. I love paranoia films where you can't trust anyone. That, to me, is not only scary but very possible. I'm a bit paranoid to begin with so the idea that everyone is out to get me is familiar - and when you put hedge clippers in their hands it becomes even scarier.

There are some decent gore scenes and several truly gruesome deaths that made me cringe (death by bug spray - yuck), and the overall feel of the film, from it's grainy cheap-video look to it's choppy editing, makes it feel slightly "off" in a good way. Kind of the way the dude outside 7/11 is "off." But in the end, it's just not enough.

The story gets all tangled up in this needless "love" triangle that does nothing but muck things up and distract from what could have been a kick ass "zombie" movie. Where we have heads being crushed to pulp by big, heavy iron scuba tank type things, we are then subjected to sappy flashbacks and "dream sequences" that, I suppose, are designed to make me feel some empathy for them or involvement in their "plights".

This can work sometimes if you give the story enough time to breathe and make sense of the romance or whatever, but in this case it never had a chance to develop. Besides, all of the characters are unlikeable and I just wanted them all to die. And frankly, I don't care. I watch a movie about rampaging killers because I want to be grossed out and see gore. Not to experience some sappy high school idea of "true love" via mix-CDs and "escaping to paradise."

Actually, I've decided I did not like this. Blerrgh.

- Complaint Dept

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