Movie Review: “The Signal”

“Do you have the crazy?”

People in the futuristic, fictional city of Terminus ponder this very question as a mysterious signal is transmitted through the city’s airwaves, infecting anyone who comes across it. In “The Signal” (POP Films, Shoreline Entertainment), those infected with “the crazy” embark on murder sprees, inflicting harm on their fellow civilians and becoming increasingly delusional as the film progresses.

On New Year’s Eve, this strange signal infiltrates the city’s airwaves – causing frustration amongst the main characters.

The film follows Mya (played by newcomer Anessa Ramsey), an attractive woman on the verge of leaving her jealous husband, Lewis (A.J. Bowen), for another man, Ben (Justin Welborn). As her husband becomes increasingly aware of her screaming infidelities, he becomes infected with the signal and begins a killing spree in pursuit of his unfaithful wife. While drawing on intense, near-apocalyptic scenes of gore, the film also takes time to throw in bits of humor in a format closely resembling “Shaun of the Dead.” And as the day of absolute chaos winds to a close, so does the film. However, by the end of “The Signal,” the city of Terminus (and civilization for that matter) is left in an irreparable state of turmoil.

While one may begin to point out similarities in the plot with other horror films such as “The Ring,” innovation proves to be a dominant quality in the film – which is actually comprised of three different films, all directed separately. In a sit-down interview with The Hatchet, filmmakers David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry shared their thoughts on the film and its production.

“It’s a rollercoaster,” said the trio of Atlanta filmmakers, “That is, if you’re willing to go for the ride.”

“Our greatest challenge during this whole process was simply getting it done,” said Gentry. “It was all about letting go. Leaving our own egos outside and collaborating as one,” added Bush.

This was not a problem for the trio as it was ideas that brought them together in the first place. Gentry, Bush, and Bruckner all became fans of each other’s work in Atlanta’s underground film scene. As they came into contact with one another, their ideas meshed and the foundation for “The Signal” was born. They are quick to note that the film’s low-budget backing in fact helped yield “more creativity.”

“With ‘The Signal,’ we weren’t answering any questions, but instead asking some,” said Bush. The directors hint that the signal itself is a conglomerate of all the stifling electronic media that is all around us in the world today. According to Bruckner, “One of the most important lines in the film is that ‘The signal is replacing my thoughts.’ I think that says a lot.”

The trio added a bit of advice to the college demographic before the interview’s end. “Make a movie, that’s all I can say, make independent films,” said Bush. They were also adamant about how to view the film: “Don’t look directly at the signal. Three fights broke out in New York at a screening.”

Unless you don’t mind wearing your sunglasses at night, you just might have “the crazy” too when “The Signal” hits theaters Friday.

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