Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Straight To Video Gems: The Signal

So I'm going to keep on telling you guys about the great little gems I find that go straight to video here in the US. I will also try to include movies that either got a very limited release in theaters or ones that were released in other countries but not here. So today, I give a little love a personal favorite of mine from the last couple of years:

The Signal

It opens with a woman by the name of Mya cheating on her husband and her lover Ben tells her they can run away together and be happy. She doesn't know what to say, so Ben tells her to think about it and gives her a mix cd he made for her. As she goes down to the parking structure, she has a couple of odd run-ins with some random people and gets a little freaked out. As she arrives home to her husband Lewis, strange things are happening in the hallway of their apartment building. Lewis is getting ready to watch the game with his friends, but some sort of strange signal is coming through the TV instead of the game. It seems to effect Lewis in a very strange way. A small argument amongst the men escalates into Lewis going berserk and killing one of his friends. As Mya scrambles to get away from Lewis, she finds more terrible things going on in the hallway. As chaos envelopes everything around her, she scrambles to find a safe place and thus begins Lewis and Ben trying to find her before the other.

The movie is shot in 3 different parts: the beginning, which is straight horror; the middle, which is more lighthearted and would qualify as a dark comedy; and the end, which is more of a blend of horror, comedy, and love story. Each segment is written and directed by a different person, giving it three distinct styles in one movie. But the most impressive thing is that while each segment feels a little different, they all still flow and gel like a single entity, never making you feel like you are watching a different movie. They all work together really well and give the movie just the right feel. Some people will tell you they didn't like how the movie never really decided what it wanted to be, but I perceive that to be The Signal's greatest strength: it does three genres (horror, comedy, romance) and does all of them well.

The beginning deluge of chaos gives it a very frantic feel and the gore in it is pretty sparse. It's violent, yes, but it's more blood than gore, just opting to splatter people in fake blood rather than disemboweling them. There is a lot of violence however, so faint of heart beware. However, the bloodiest parts are often some of the funniest parts once you get past the first third of the movie. A couple expecting guests for their New Years Party and one winding up dead, a man talking to a disembodied head, and a guy spraying bug spray in people's eyes are all among the things that would normally seem rather grim, but The Signal handles all with a comedic deftness that most funny movies can't even achieve.

Overall, The Signal is one of my favorite movies of the last couple of years, let alone horror. I really enjoyed watching it because it was something new to me. The plot is pretty heavily borrowed from the Stephen King novel Cell (or coincidentally is very similar), but it's just different enough that it isn't just a rip-off. It's a very worthwhile film if you have a chance to check it out!

1 comment:

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