Quint saw THE SIGNAL at Sundance! Did he think it was the worst of the fest or the discovery of Sundance? Click to find out!!
Published at: Jan. 23, 2007, 4:53 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here.
I won't tease you. The answer to the headline: THE SIGNAL is the big discovery of the Sundance Film Festival.
Directors David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry have made their BAD TASTE. THE SIGNAL is rough and low budget, but so fucking entertaining and well made that tonight's audience was electric. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The evening started out with a short film called LITTLE FARM, directed by Calvin Reeder. The first 3 minutes of this short had me thinking I was in for a rough night. We just had this family (early 20s son, same age blonde daughter and a grumpy fat old man) driving around and cursing each other. Then they get to the titular little farm and it starts getting bizarre. Just random shots of these guys looking at goats and collecting eggs.
Then the shit goes down. A ghost shows up and wrecks havoc. The sound design was very well done, to the point where every member of the audience had their fingers jammed in their ears.
The dialog wasn't all that great, but Reeder was so inventive with the gore and camera tricks (backwards photography, practical and computer effects) that it turned out to be one of my favorite shorts I've seen so far. You get faces bashed in, guts strung up and even some exploding heads. Good stuff, Mr. Reeder.
The short was so good there was doubt as to whether or not the feature presentation could follow it up.
When the movie started, I once again thought I was in for a rough couple of hours. THE SIGNAL was my 6th movie of the day, a day which started at 9am.
The opening was very amateurish and rushed feeling. We see a couple girls strung up in a shed and a creepy Jeffrey Combs type outside killing some other girl. Turns out this was a piece of the directors' short film from a few years back that they put at the beginning to represent a crappy horror movie on the TV. I didn't understand that until the Q&A. I thought it was just some random sequence to act as a hook. They might want to consider making that a little more obvious or replacing the footage altogether.
The footage is quickly interrupted by the signal, represented by a fluctuating series of colors and static and a high pitched whine. We meet our two leads, Anessa Ramsey, a petite blonde woman, and Justin Welborn, who bears a slight resemblance to Simon Pegg, I snagged this pic at the premiere Q&A of the two. Sorry for the evil red eyes on Ramsey.
Ramsey is cheating on her husband with Welborn, but she's unwilling to take the step she wants to take, to break it off with her overbearing hubby.
There's something addictive about the signal coming through on the TV, but Welborn turns it off. Their phones are affected, both the landline and the cell, so Ramsey rushes home to make sure her husband doesn't catch on.
Turns out the signal alters your perception and increases your violent tendencies if you focus on it too long or are exposed to the high pitched sound for any length of time.
All hell breaks loose. Jealousy and dormant hatred bubble up to the surface. These loonies aren't zombies or even 28 DAYS LATER "rage zombies." They still think and everything they think makes a certain sense to them, but that usually ends with someone dead in a brutal way.
The gore factor is through the roof, the characters are colorful, especially when we meet a landlord named Clark (Scott Poythress). This guy is funny as hell, just a natural character. His reactions and line readings make him stand out from the first time you see him.
Here's another pic from the Q&A. Poythress is far left, the guy in the middle with the beard is the asshole hubby (and main heavy of the film), the two leads next to him and two of three directors and one producer, Alexander Motlagh, in between.
The structure of the film is a bit different. There are three directors because they each directed an act. The first act is violent and rife with character development, while the second act is more satirical, even BRAINDEAD outlandish at times. The third act is more tragic/serious.
The film doesn't feel segmented at all. It all flows perfectly, so it was quite a surprise to me to see the credits at the end describe the breakdown of the acts. We're given moments during the film where each act is given a different title, but I thought that was more of a stylistic choice then an alert that a new segment has begun.
This film will explode. Mark my words. It has cult classic written all over it. There's a character that pops up during the 2nd, funnier act, named Jim Parsons who will be the Ash of this film... well, if Ash was only in the middle of EVIL DEAD. Ash minus the heroics, but with all the comedy of EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS Ash. He will be a fan favorite.
THE SIGNAL deserves not only a strong release, but a supportive release. If marketed well, this one will be big. It is rough, but it's very well made and fun as hell. The best new horror film in years. These guys will go far.
The official website is www.doyouhavethecrazy.com. This film is the reason I go to film festivals and brave the midnight series. I can't wait to show it to some friends that didn't make it to the fest this year, so whomever is going to dish out the money for it better get their butt in gear.
PS At the screening, MC Hammer popped up and I swear to God I saw Aaron from 24, which added an extra layer of coolness to an already cool capper to the day.