The Signal (2007)

July 1, 2008 § Leave a comment

Oh, you’re a crafty little indie horror film.  Yes, you are.  You look like you’re about something, and maybe in a fuzzy way, you are.  There’s that small, good moment at the beginning when the man looks at the woman in the darkness of the bedroom and says, simply “Stay,” and he has that look that seems to say a lot more.  But then ten minutes later you’re showing us some minor character in a hallway getting their throat cut with garden shears. So, you’re all about this, and then you’re all about that. Are you a Gemini? Your premise seems original: a crazy signal broadcasts on all TV sets, and right after that semi-tender one night stand and bedroom scene, the crazy signal produces a lot of crazy people. Chaos. Primal rage, or whatever.  I wouldn’t know. But what’s the point, little film, what’s the point? It’s a neat idea to say let’s bump up the mind-numbing, mind-twisting power of television by ten thousand percent, so that instead of the slow brain-numb many of us flirt with, all the characters are completely freaked out and frazzled. Clever, yes. But there’s a certain unfortunate irony to introducing that idea and then doing little with it, aside from guys getting clocked on the side of the head with baseball bats, and people pummeling each other to a bloody pulp with fire extinguishers. Oh, was there something clever there, like putting out the brain with a fire extinguisher?  Sigh.

Little film, you’re frustrating. You had a funny scene with a kind of dorky guy coming to a party with no idea all this was going on, which was funny but a trifle sad, because he was pleasantly oblivious through pure luck, and then not long after that you show us a guy with one of those huge cans of professional bug exterminator stuff, and he sprays it into a woman’s mouth. Little film, I didn’t want to see that.  I’m trying to forget it.  Oh, and fuck you, little film!  Sigh. I’m writing you a letter, little film, I’m sending you an email. I’d like to know what you were thinking.  None of your characters get anywhere close to figuring out where this signal is coming from, or why. It’s all about two or three men in particular that duke it out, and even that turns out to be a vague, distorted, funhouse mirror version of male competition.

Let’s create a new section at the video store: the zombie intellectual film. No wait, let’s call it the section for little films that haven’t grown up and don’t know what they are.  No wait, let’s call it new directors trying to show they can do bold work. I don’t think it helps that three directors each took a part of this film, because it sort of holds together, but then it sort of doesn’t.  I thought the first director was off to a decent start, with that moment where the man says “Stay.”  Maybe it would have been impressive if he’d been allowed to carry on.  What do you think, little film?  Little film?  You don’t really have an answer, do you.

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