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Sci-Fi Horror Film

The Signal

The signal in question is a mysterious transmission broadcast through cell phones, TVs and radios on New Year's Eve which turns everyone who tunes into it completely crazy. Most of them go violently murder happy and the streets are soon awash with blood and guts. It's chilling, hilarious and captivating stuff that makes the most of a modest budget.

The film is split into three parts, or transmissions and each one is handled by a different director. They all focus on the same love triangle but from different perspectives. We kick off with Mya who is having an affair with Ben and on the verge of leaving her husband Lewis. She returns home in time to see Lewis losing the plot and taking a baseball bat to one of his friends. She flees in panic but quickly discovers that the murderous rage is not an isolated incident as her entire apartment building is sliding into carnage.

This first transmission is apocalyptic mayhem with a real horror feel and lots of chilling violence. It's a tense and exciting set up.

Lewis is the focus of part two and he has most definitely got the crazy. Ben turns up looking for Mya and rather unwisely releases Lewis from his bonds. He quickly embarks on a hunt for his missing wife and ends up in an apartment with a couple of other crazies, although all three have somehow bought into the idea that they are all sane and quickly form a strange pact.

The second transmission is extremely comical and although it retains the gory fervour of the opening there are lots of absurd moments to break the tension. It feels a bit strange after the chilling mood established in part one but the madness afflicting everyone lends itself to comedy really well. The direction and script in this part are probably the strongest.

The final transmission follows Ben as he breaks free of Lewis long enough to pursue Mya. There is plenty more mayhem and madness before the twisted finale. This part seems to blend elements of the first two so it has a darker, meaner edge than part two but keeps on with the comically absurd.

For a cast of unknowns the acting is excellent. Highlights for me were AJ Bowen as the psychotic Lewis, he was an exterminator before the signal went out and he seems to be particularly adept at transitioning from killing bugs to killing people. Scott Poythress as Clark provides most of the comedy and his timing and delivery was spot on. Surprisingly for a relatively low budget film there were no weak links.

Plot wise The Signal borrows from various sources but the writing is good enough to make it feel fresh. The direction is also impressive and despite veering between horror and comedy it holds together really well. The violent action and gore is excellent and the overall style is so strong that the film looks much more expensive than it actually was.

This is the best horror film I've seen in quite a while. It's inventive, polished and thrilling from start to finish. A slice of paranoid awesomeness that you should track down immediately.

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