ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Signal (2007)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: David Bruckner
Dan Bush
Jacob Gentry

Starring:
Anessa Ramsey/Mya
Scott Poythress/Clark
AJ Bowen/Lewis
PLOT-CRUNCH
An “out of nowhere” transmission emanates out of every cell phone, radio and TV set on the planet, altering the logic and thought patterns of the people who hear it. Yup; they become stark raving mad loonies with “kill” on the fritz. We’re treated to a hefty slice of murderous shenanigans via an anthology light type of narrative structure.
THE LOWDOWN

Do you have the crazy?

I didn’t know jack-squat about THE SIGNAL before plugging myself into its wall jack. All I knew is that its synopsis gave me Nam flashbacks of Stephen King’s last novel CELL and Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER. Now although I did get shades of the two aforementioned oeuvres as I was being brainwashed by this flick; much like a dame with a tongue piercing and an IQ of 2, it offered so much more than what I perceived at first glance.

What could’ve easily been played in a linear manner pulled a Pulp Fiction on my ass and told its story from three different interrelated perspectives. And although all three blocks were different in tone and vibe; they still complemented each other and managed to tell its story as a whole. The film’s first act was my darling of the lot. Our engaging main characters and a rocky love triangle were introduced and then the signal buzzed loud and sent everybody to hell; including me! I immediately fell in love with our protagonist Mya (Anessa Ramsey) who acted as my tour guide to the madness charged sights while having her own riveting shit going on. High on suspense, visual panache, unflinching brutality (all about that dude with the sheers) with a sly use of music to boot (Maya played Leave by Heavens on her CD Man to shut out the world… very cool), David Bruckner’s segment was a moody, visceral, shocking and utterly gripping ordeal that I didn’t want to let go of. So I was set up real good and was ready for a straight forward pummeling.

But then Dan Bush’s take on the ordeal went down and totally backhanded me in its drastic change of tone. What started off as a lean and mean horror machine; became a gory, yuk-yuk heavy, Edgar Wright type of take on the happenings. To be totally frank (or Earnest Goes to Camp); it took me about 15 minutes to adjust to the new approach and to let go of what I was hoping this film was going to be. Once I came to terms with it and embraced the new direction; I had a riot act and a half with it! The kooky characters owned me in their totally out there behavior (Lewis Denton is my idol!) while the further exploration of “how” this signal was affecting these folks often resulted in all kinds of trippy going ons and zany humor. And did I mention the gory goods in this Zoo? No? Well I just did then! DAMN! What a mess… in a good way! The last time, I saw a metal canister put to such good use on a human head was in Irreversible. SWEET!

WE INTERRUPT THIS REVIEW FOR A SLICE OF ARROW LIFE: I live in downtown Montreal and right now as I write this crap; they’ve closed the street outside my pad and they are having a street sale. Problem is some Shakira garbage is booming from outside and polluting my space inside. I am f*cking losing it. “And I'm on tonight, you know my hips don't lie and I'm starting to feel its right." SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT THE F*CK UP! This duh trash is acting as a “signal” on me RIGHT NOW! I’m getting the crazy in my head! Hips don’t lie? HIPS DON’T LIE???? WTF you yapping about! DO MY DISHES! ARRRRRRG!

Okay let’s finish this review.

Wacky Act 2 eventually segued to Justin Welborn’s block which pretty much hit the middle in terms of the darkness of Act 1 and the comedy of Act 2. With enough twists and ballsy moves as to bringing this warped story to a close; Act 3 wrapped it all up with oomph and made for a nifty finish. As the end credits rolled; my main peeves were: Act 2 lagged a bit and I still would have loved to have seen Act 1 taken all the way to be a feature on its own. Overall though, THE SIGNAL made for a stylish, compelling, unique within its clichés, socially relevant (that man vs. his dependency on technology theme again) and satisfying sit down.

I say, catch this signal, let it invade your brain and then seek out Shakira to spank her silly and stupid for creating that drivel she calls music. Your hips don’t lie eh? Well, neither do my balls honey. TEA BAGGGGGGG!

GORE
The left field gore gags were a big part of this ride’s fun and I don’t want to spoil them too much here. Hence I will solely say this: “Burt Reynolds”. Just kidding: stabbings, beheadings, head bashing, gun shot wounds and… I’ll stop right there. Trust me when I say this though; its one grisly puppy!
ACTING
I want more Anessa Ramsey (Mya) in movies! Photogenic, magnetic and intense; the girl had me off the bat. I would've followed her anywhere. Scott Poythress (Clark) nailed his semi goofball part. AJ Bowen (Lewis) stole the show with his menacing yet strangely likeable performance. Justin Welborn (Ben) was sympathetic and mucho focused while Chad McKnight’s (Jim Parsons) appearance had me in freaking stitches! He played up his colorful part like a champ!
T & A
You know global warming is upon us when the only ass you see in a film of this ilk belongs to Justin Welborn. Why show his butt when Anessa Ramsey’s bumper was obviously much more alluring is beyond me. COME ON! NOTE: Cheri Christian's mammoth cleavage was much appreciated though. Thank you. May I have seconds?
DIRECTING
David Bruckner put out a dark, impact heavy, tension laced and energetic show. Dan Bush went the twisted, funny and colorful way. Jacob Gentry hit the arrow in the head with his mind toying and visually vibrant finale. Props on a job well done gents!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a subdued solemn score, a gnarly use of “Leave” by Heavens and brilliant sound design.
BOTTOM LINE
Part art film, part gore party, part dark comedy; THE SIGNAL pulled all my right strings and acted as a firm reminder as to why I love to watch genre efforts that are created outside the Hollywood system. The minor pacing issues and the sudden shift in tone within the middle block might turn some off; but advice is to stick with it till the end; you might change your mind about it all by then. I know I did. THE SIGNAL was what low budget horror filmmaking should be all about. Taking chances and pushing the envelope while delivering the goods that genre fiends fans crave. Great film!
BULL'S EYE
Word has it that the flick only cost 50, 000$ to make. If true...WOW!

The film within a film that open the flick is a bit from Jacob Gentry's "The Hap Hapgood Story".

VISIT THE SIGNAL WEBSITE HERE

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