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"The Signal"

Directed by David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush.
Written by David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush.
Starring Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn, A.J. Bowen and Scott Poythress.
Release Year:  ?
Review Date:  1/31/07


Another film in the "Park City at Midnight" series at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, "The Signal" kept the theme of bloody horror/action/comedy movies intact by spilling more blood than any other film I saw at the festival.  Fantastically B-movie-ish, the film never looks to aim that high as it presents its gory sci-fi apocalyptic setting...this doesn't make it very good, but certainly, it's a rush.

Presented in three segments (hence the three Atlanta-based directors you see above), "The Signal" is set in the near-future in the made-up city of Terminus, where a young woman named Mya (Anessa Ramsey) is cheating on her husband Lewis (A.J. Bowen, who looks damn near exactly like Ryan Reynolds) with a man named Ben (Justin Welborn).  One night, after finishing up a sex session with Ben, Mya decides to go home; just before she leaves Ben's apartment, she tries to call Lewis to tell him she's on her way home but can't seem to get reception on either a cell phone or a landline...and, Ben's TV is mysteriously showing just static even though there's not a storm in the sky...but, oh well.  Upon getting back to her apartment building, Mya finds that lots of people seem to be in a daze, but it's a daze that has everyone walking around with a crazed look in their eyes, like they are about to, I don't know, KILL somebody...and, after she gets home to find that Lewis is about to kill one of his best friends over a very minor argument, she gets scared and decides to run...

...out into her apartment building hallway, where EVERYONE is starting to kill everyone else.  Uh oh...I wonder if that static had anything to do with it...

And, so on.  Basically, people start turning into bloodthirsty zombies, much bloodshed ensues, and survivors try to escape this little shop of horrors before it is too late.  "The Signal" is so gratuitously violent and brutal that at least 20 people walked out of my theater within the first 30 minutes, which is weird because we're talking about Sundance, where people shelled out big $$$ to see these movies and are used to stomaching the worst a filmmaker can throw at you.  Using a no-name cast and buckets of blood, "The Signal" rides its low budget all the way to the finish line.  That finish, though--and, the fact that for some reason, the filmmakers decided to never explain who or what caused these signals to be sent out in the first place, which would have been just a little helpful--didn't satisfy me and ultimately makes "The Signal" even more meaningless when you leave the theater.

Still, while I was sitting there, "The Signal" is not a bad ride.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09