“Have you got the crazy?” On the night before New Year’s, an unexplainable electronic signal begins transmitting through televisions, radios and phone lines, distorting the perceptions of anyone exposed to it. Any person affected by the signal turns into a vicious killer. A rationally irrational killer, with full mental capacities that just happen to be altered to the point where taking a stranger’s head off with a metal cutter seems like the right thing to do at the time. Because the maniacs still function normally when not having “moments,” it is impossible for anyone to know who is affected and who is not. In no time, the streets are filled with bodies and crashed cars. In the midst of it all, a young woman in love with a man other than her husband is running from her already dangerous and now fully lethal spouse!
The Signal kicks some serious ass, in some very unexpected ways. It’s a throttling thrill-ride of a film, and the way it was made is just as bewildering -- The Signal is a film in three chapters, each from a different filmmaker (David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry & Dan Bush) who wrote, directed, shot and edited their individual segments. The first act is character-driven and very much grounded in reality. When the killings begin, it is horrifying, the panic and terror completely engrossing. The second act shifts into a more satirical tone, with over-the-top set pieces that are as quick-witted as they are outrageous and gory. When the third act hits, the film spirals into a pseudo-experimental freakout. What is particularly fascinating is that all three segments shift tones in radical ways while still maintaining linearity and central characters from one to the next, The Signal’s entire story unfolding over the course of a single day, albeit with flashbacks, flashforwards and every other kind of device the filmmakers could spike their mix up with. It’s an insanely audacious experiment, and the risks have paid off like an apocalypse. It became one of the most popular films at this year’s Sundance within seconds of its screening.
The Signal borrows elements from Kurosawa’s Pulse and Romero’s The Crazies, but that’s washed over by the enormous storytelling passion on display as the film continuously reinvents itself over its running time. Elements are left unexplained and several deliberately cancel each other out, yet it’s tough to not totally go with it. You would never think a film that starts off so frightening can become something this damn fun.
“So f*cking entertaining. This film is the reason I go to film festivals” – Quint, AINT IT COOL
“A true treat” – Scott Weinberg, CINEMATICAL
“Carves out a fresh angle in the crowded indie horror universe” – Robert Koehler, VARIETY
WINNER: Public Prize, Bronze Fantasia, Best American or European Film, Fantasia 2007
Director: David Bruckner, Dan Bush , Jacob Gentry
Screenplay: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Cast: Anessa Ramsey
AJ Bowen Scott
Poythress Sahr Ngaugua
Producers: Hilton Garrett, Jacob Gentry, Alexander Motlagh, Morris Ruskin
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures