The Signal (2007) Review
Written by: the5thdroog
When I first heard about this movie, I really thought the idea was something interesting. It wasn’t the most original, but it had been awhile since something in the horror genre had used the mind control side of things. Now the movie is on DVD and “The Happening” is coming out on Friday and Stephen King’s “Cell” (still in limbo I think) is out there and I’m wondering how this will stand up. Before I even need consider that though, I went ahead and FINALLY saw this movie after having missed it a previous screenings over the last year.
The setting for the opening of the movie is an abandoned shack out in the woods. A couple of girls have been tied up and their attacker is deciding what to do with them. One girl escapes and is recaptured, but just before her demise is witnessed, the screen goes into a very strange lava lamp like pattern and seems to almost be emitting vibrations from the television with the sounds that are echoing the design. A man gets out of bed and sees this and turns it off. Ben (Justin Welborn) then turns to see that his guest is startled by how late it is and starts to rush out of bed. Mya (Anessa Ramsey) tries to use her cell phone to call her husband and let her know a night with the girls went a little late, but the vibration that is was on the television is also coming through her phone. She just thinks there is something wrong with her service so then tries Ben’s phone only to be greeted with the same noise. Ben tries to entice her to stay and just leave her husband. He even confronts her with the question of whether or not she loves him. He goes on to describe how they can just escape everything together, by meeting at terminal 13 in the morning and just being done with all of the lies and sneaking around. She laughs and makes her way to her car.
In the parking deck she runs into a man who has had some sort of violent accident and is covered in blood. He is pleading for her to help him, but she declines and quickly gets in her car before getting drawn into the drama. Once she is home, she sees a lot of people just wandering the halls with strange blank looks on their faces. This makes her even more uneasy, but she finally gets to her apartment only to find her husband and two of his friends arguing about the fact that the television is messed up and they can’t watch the game. The same pattern that was on Ben’s TV is also on her own. Lewis (AJ Bowen), her husband, asks where she was and why she didn’t call. She gives him the girls night out story. Lewis tells her to clean up because he likes her better when she doesn’t smell so much of perfume. While in the shower she hears a commotion going on in the living room and sees her husband smash in one of his friends over the head with a baseball bat. Not knowing what to do she runs out across the hall to her friend’s apartment. She finally lets her in, but not before one of the crazed hall wanderers sneaks up to kill her neighbor. She locks herself in and falls asleep until morning. Now she is left with wondering what to do and if what happened last night happened everywhere and still has the same effect on everyone it was night before. Mia most of all seemed to wonder about Ben and his plan to escape this life.
The acting was tolerable for the most part. It certainly had glaring spots of ups and downs for me. I did enjoy, for the most part, the way everyone seemed to play off of each other, but many times you could easily find the weaker link. I understand it was an independent film so I’m not going to nag too much about how certain people came across on the screen. Overall the acting didn’t really take away from the movie for me.
It did have some effective effects. There were a couple of smashed heads and faceless scenes that could be placed on a highlight reel of how to do effects. I also liked one of the scenes with an air pump. Not a terribly difficult effect, but creative just the same. Enough blood to make the average fan happy, but a gorehound may be a bit disappointed.
The movie was an interesting watch. I found myself hoping for more clarity on what was going on and never really got that. Not that it destroyed the movie for me. There were quite a few scenes that I did sort of drag myself through and some of the humor was a bit much. I thought some of the scenes were funny, but the way it blended between wanting to be a “serious drama” and a humorous look on how people see each other could’ve been done better. The ending also seemed more confusing than it needed to be, but I think that was the point. Not something I’m disappointed in seeing, but thought it had the tools and ideas there to be at least a little better.