The Signal

Normally, Wednesdays are reserved for zombie posts. But this week, I’m co-opting the Wednesday slot for a guy I know, one AJ Bowen.

AJ is an actor, and he’s from the Atlanta area. A couple of years ago, he and a bunch of other people made a horror film for about $50,000. Last year, they took that film to Sundance, where it was immediately picked up by Magnolia Pictures. And when I say immediately, I mean that talk started before the movie finished and, I may be wrong here, it sold that night. This movie is called The Signal.

I got to see it at a film festival in Atlanta last year, and then again at Dragon*Con, and then a third time at a screening a couple months ago around Christmas. Each and every time I’ve seen it, I have enjoyed it. And that’s not loyalty talking, The Signal is genuinely a good horror film.

As with other reviewers who have seen it, there are moments, few and short but they exist, where the low budget nature of the film comes through, but mostly the film just comes across as well made, with some scenes actually falling into the “disturbingly real looking” category, which in my book is exactly what you want from a good horror film.

The setting of the film is that a signal is coming through electronics and it is driving people crazy, acting out on their impulses and urges to deadly effect. I say that is the setting and not the story because it really is, its the backdrop on which the real story happens. The real story is about a girl, her husband, and her boyfriend. The story is told in three parts, each from the point of view of a different character: the girl, her husband, and her boyfriend.

The Signal is not gross out torture porn, like the Saw movies or Hostel. Instead it is a well crafted story with elements of and rooted in horror. If you like horror films, I highly recommend that you find a theater playing this one on its currently limited release.

And no, before you ask, they did not steal the idea from Stephen King, the movie was filmed before his book Cell even came out, and they aren’t the same in any event beyond sharing a basic idea: a signal through technology drives people crazy.

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