The Signal (Blu-Ray) Review
Written by: rerj73
Asian horror films have long been warning us of the dangers of technology. From the uneven Pulse to the superior Ringu, we have been warned that our own toys may well be the tools of our destruction. Now we have homegrown technological fables to keep us at night. Stephen King's novel Cell comes to mind as a prime example, as does the classic Videodrome. Add to that list The Signal, an almost-anthology of stories directed and written by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry. When all the televisions, cell phones and radios in the city of Terminus begin broadcasting the titular signal, everyday folks begin to act on their basest impulses, especially jealousy, rage and murder.
At the film's center is a love triangle between Mya (Anessa Ramsey), her husband Lewis (AJ Bowen) and Ben (Justin Welborn). At the film's opening, Mya is on her way home to Lewis after an evening in the arms of her lover, Ben. The film works best in these opening scenes, as civilization first begins to crumble. A scene in a parking garage is particularly unsettling as Mya makes her way home. Once home, Lewis goes off his nut and Mya flees her home to find her love and escape Terminus as society crumbles. The film is divided into three acts, all written and directed by one of the creative trio behind the movie. As a result, the film is uneven. The first act is effective and disturbing, despite performances that start shaky, but it is a hell of a ride. The second act is tone-deaf in relation to the rest of the film, seeming to channel Pulp Fiction through the prism of a David Lynch film. It's entertaining, but it doesn't feel like it belongs in this movie. The third act is a return to form, if slightly more mystical.
The final scenes in a train station are striking, and the acting seems to reach a higher level in these closing scenes. Ultimately, The Signal is a fine idea with problems in its execution. It's hard to fault a film for what it is not, but there was often the sense that the movie suffered from the number of cooks watching this pot. As for the hi-def presentation, little is gained from the digital transfer, and pixelation is distracting at times. The sound, on the other hand, is terrific, particular the low rumble of the mysterious signal within a 5.1 audio landscape. While not a must-see, The Signal provides some nice thrills, despite its up-and-down storytelling and occasionally spotty performances. Perhaps the oft-delayed Stephen King/Eli Roth Cell will provide audiences with the neo-luddite vision we've been waiting for.