There’s two things I want to get out of the way regarding The Signal right off the bat. First, it isn’t really a zombie movie, although I wasn’t sure about that until I saw it. Second, it is freaking awesome.
On that first point, it is clearly inspired and informed by the zombie apocalypse meme. Like most of the movies I chronicled in my list of almost/sort-of/barely zombie movies, it definitely works an at-times very zombie-like vibe yet manages to be different enough to separate itself from the pack. So, technically speaking, it isn’t suitable for ZMMM and I wouldn’t schedule it again. But it’s close enough I didn’t feel compelled to watch another movie. Some people would definitely classify it as a zombie flick, others would say I am crazy for even calling it close enough to pass on a limited basis. Clear?
On that second point, it is awesome. I really, really liked this movie. Great idea, great execution, based in classic themes but with a completely unique flavor. I recommend it wholeheartedly and without reservation as a top-notch zombie-like film. Seriously, see it.
It’s the story of a city that “gets the crazy” when a mysterious transmission goes out over telephone lines, radio and, most importantly, television. Really, it’s all about the TV. It follows three people who form a crazy love triangle and the folks they encounter in their trip through crazytown. It’s told in an unusual quasi-anthology style. Each of the three segments has a different writer and director. To some degree the tone changes too, but it always flows. And the characters remain essentially the same, although some come and go.
So, girl is married to guy and cheating with other guy. The signal goes out and makes people nuts. Girl’s husband is one of the first to lose it, she runs and tries to meet up with guy she is cheating with. Crazy shit happens. It’s hard to summarize the rest without simply giving a play-by-play of the entire film and spoiling it all. Suffice it to say, the transmission affects everyone a little differently, even if homicidal aggression is usually part of the package. This plays out in some really amusing ways punctuated by sheer brutality.
It’s genuinely impressive how three writer/directors and a cast of total unknowns can pull off such a brilliant, well-executed film. The acting is excellent. The dialog is sharp and occasionally hilarious. The ideas are clever, unusual and genuinely thought-provoking. There’s a bit of message mixed in there, but it serves the film rather than overpowering it. It is, in short, a Very Good Film.
The short was A Terrorist Ate My Brain and it was a fitting complement, since it is about a song created by terrorists that turns people into flesh-eating zombies when they hear it. It kind of spoofs the post-9/11 paranoia in America and trashy TV at the same time, so that’s a win. It was really fun and funny and highly recommended. I’ve embedded it below, but the aspect ratio seems a little jacked. I’m sure you will enjoy it anyway.