Monday, September 8, 2008

"TV Party Tonight!"

The Signal
Directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry(2007)

My only real "surprise" watching a film this year has been watching "The Signal". I loved "Dark Knight", "The Fall", and "I'm Not There" but I expected, to, at least, be interested in those, "The Signal", however, I got on a whim, and got lucky.3 directors tell three stories, about the same group of people suriving an apacolyptic event on New Years Eve. All televesion, radio, and cell phones begin broadcasting...the signal...which leads to symptoms of paranoia, agression, hullucination, and inevitably psychotically attacking and killing all those around you.But that's all old hat really, what makes this, different from the assembly line of "28 Days Later" imitations, are the stylistic shifts in tone, from horror, to comedy, to psychological thriller.What begins as slighly off beat horror film, becomes by the second half hour a horror comedy mocking and criticing the first half, then once the emotional stew of nervous laughter and dread begin to marinate, a slow simmering of psychological confusion is poured over everything for the third and final chapter.The Signal does not drive it's victims to act off simple savage bloodlust, or reduce them to a state of midnlessness, in fact, it fully convinces them that they are in "the only sane one", that all of their actions are for the common good and the best. That they are in effect, heroes who are doing what must be done.The old addage that the insane never know they are crazy, that mental breakdowns are often associated with "moments of clarity", is where this film plays it's best cards, and most interestingly distorts, the cliche's of "survival" stories like this. What's really scary and intimidating today, isn't an army of mindless drones killing without sense, it's an aware, intelligent mind, that "believes" what it is doing is "absolutely" right and good when it kills you with an axe, or tortues you for information, you couldn't possibly have.The story all takes place in a town called "Terminus", a vowel and some change away from "terminal". From the word go, you know these characters aren't going to end happily ever after. Just as, the movie assumes, youve seen at least one similar "zombie" or "end of the world" type movie, enough to understand what this film is setting you up for, and all the directions it's not going to go in.So far it's the best horror film of 2008, and one of the most inventive, funny, disturbing (not really scary), thoughtful, and entertaining horror movies Ive seen in years. A bit jarring at first, but good times.

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