Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garbled Transmissions

The Signal (2007)

One day in the city of Terminus, every television, phone and other broadcasting device emits a mysterious signal that causes ordinary people to go bugnuts ape-shit and act like Scottish soccor hooligans when their favorite team is down by 13 points.

A girl named Mya (Aneesa Ramsey) is cheating on her bug exterminator hubbie Lewis (A.J. Bowen) by sleeping with David Hyde Pierce look-alike Ben (Justin Welborn). When the world goes to heck in a handbasket, Ben tries to find Mya to get her to safety but runs seriously afoul of Lewis. That’s pretty much the story.

The film is from a writing/directing trio, David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, and they break up the film into three parts or "transmissions" in which they are each responsible for writing and directing their own piece of this puzzle. The first part is from Mya's point of view, the second from Lewis' pov and the third part is from Ben's perspective. The first and third parts are dead serious and follow the aforementioned story, but the middle plays like a community theater production of Shaun of the Dead (it’s a decent community theater production but a strange choice by the filmmakers, nevertheless). At first I was buying it, but the comedy/satire segment, where we follow some secondary (or perhaps "superfluous" is a better word) characters at a New Year's Party before Lewis drops in, seems to go on forever; it ultimately seriously disrupted the flow of the movie.

And what a strange flow it is. I had no idea what the filmmakers point was to all this mayhem. There is so much brutal violence in the movie that I felt bludgeoned. And just when you think the bloodied up characters will get a break, and maybe tend to all that running/dripping blood, they end up MORE bloodied and beaten around. The movie is just over 100 minutes long, and by the third chapter I was sick of all the violence, even the comic stuff, and just wanted this to end.

The film looks decent for a very low budget movie (shot in 13 days according to one of the supplemental features). The acting was good, the movie has impressive production design and the gore effets are well done, so I applaud them on those fronts. But other than love makes you do dumb things and violence is bad I have no idea what their story was about.

[I do look forward to seeing what these filmmakers do in the future, but please guys have a real, concrete idea in your heads - and in the script - as to what you are trying to accomplish with your movie.]

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