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!!
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.
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Jan. 23, 2007, 4:33 a.m. CST
The world needs a new Peter Jackson as the first one is making rubbish like King Kong.
Jan. 23, 2007, 4:46 a.m. CST
Whatever you're snorting, I want some...
Jan. 23, 2007, 5:27 a.m. CST
to your slice of pie at the local diner...I hoped you tipped him well.
Jan. 23, 2007, 6:08 a.m. CST
I'm sure this film is great, but it sounds extremely similar to the premise of that (relatively) new Stephen King book, CELL. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but hopefully this film didn't just steal the idea and run with it.
Jan. 23, 2007, 6:11 a.m. CST
A TV signal which causes abnormal behavior in people? Sounds familiar. Still, I will definitely check this out if it's as gory and insane as Quint suggests.
Jan. 23, 2007, 6:12 a.m. CST
by v for vienetta
Nope, but I do now have a headache! Sheesh.
Jan. 23, 2007, 7:39 a.m. CST
you can't beat James Woods' and his vagina stomach
Jan. 23, 2007, 7:38 a.m. CST
You can view this and other of this year's short films on the sundance website. I saw this film, to see if I agreed with Quint (and to gauge if his taste and mine would agree when it comes to THE SIGNAL). I kind of hated LITTLE FARM. It was an attempt to make something freaky (and it DOES have freaky moments, but not the horror kind of freaky). The acting was middle of the road, the camera work was pretty bad, the lighting was barely able to illuminate the subjects, the sound design (as mentioned above) was annoying (although might be due to being heard through a streaming internet connection), and the "ghost" was laughable. This got into Sundance? Time to dust off my old Super 8mm "horror" films I shot when I was in High School, they might have a chance! Doesn't leave me to hopeful that I would agree with Quint when it comes to THE SIGNAL, but I like the story idea, so I am going to go see it when it gets released to judge for myself.
Jan. 23, 2007, 10:42 a.m. CST
It's just Hammer now.
Jan. 23, 2007, 10:44 a.m. CST
Hammer gotta eat or cheets on his wife's nipples on Optimus's brother or some such shit.
Jan. 23, 2007, 11:37 a.m. CST
WREAKS HAVOC! Come on, Quint...pretend you write for a living and try to use the english language correctly. Let me guess...I'll bet you say "All the sudden" (instead of all of a sudden) too?
Jan. 23, 2007, 1:43 p.m. CST
by Ray Gamma
a new 'braindead'/'evil dead' type of cult hit? yes please... looking forward to this.
Jan. 23, 2007, 2:02 p.m. CST
Is anyone seeing this? To me at least, it sounds like the most entertaining of any of the films this year.
Jan. 23, 2007, 2:04 p.m. CST
Wiseblood was a bit of a dickhead about it, but yes he's right. My Sundance stuff is written on the spot and more typos than usual are slipping through. I'm seeing 5 or 6 movies a day, conducting interviews and trying to find time to write about the flicks, sleep and eat. I've been averaging 4 hours a night. All that and I'm still behind! So, I apologize for phonetically spelling "wreck."<BR><BR>Also, in regards to Cell, there are certainly comparisons to be made, but they said at the Q&A that they were already in production when someone brought in King's book. The tone is radically different and the result of the signal on people is different, but yes... this will plague the film.
Jan. 23, 2007, 2:19 p.m. CST
Just finished watching Valerie on the Stairs and with the exception of Argento's offering, it is horrible! Oh, and that nurse in "Family" getting hit in the face with demonic vaginal spooge...this season blows.
Jan. 23, 2007, 4:25 p.m. CST
As long as the film works I guess the fact that it's similar to CELL (and also VIDEODROME - didn't even think of that) shouldn't be held over its head, especially if it was already in production when the book came out. It'll be interesting to see what Eli Roth does with CELL to make it different from SIGNAL now.
Jan. 23, 2007, 6:20 p.m. CST
I am a dickhead, I'll give you that...but you're still wrong...WREAK is pronounced WREEEEK (rhymes with weak) NOT Wreck (which rhymes with Dreck). Don't get me wrong, I love your reviews, but dont blame it on a typo dude...it was a misuse of a word. Look up Wreak in the dictionariasaurus...TOTALLY different meaning than WRECK
Jan. 23, 2007, 6:21 p.m. CST
you're at Sundance, and I'm in rainy ass Seattle WISHING I was at Sundance...
Jan. 23, 2007, 7:15 p.m. CST
One of my good friends is in "The Signal," and she's been singing its praises for months now (she's the one in the green). It's good to know her good thoughts were vindicated.
Jan. 24, 2007, 7:27 a.m. CST
Just finished the book, and there will no doubt be comparisons. Still sounds like an interesting rental though, even if Charley Pride isn't in it.
Jan. 24, 2007, 11:43 a.m. CST
That's an epileptic seizure waiting to happen. Can't wait to this this flick!
Jan. 24, 2007, 1:38 p.m. CST
because whatever the hell is on that official site just keeps playing. I get it. it's the signal. i'm insane now. so can i please watch some actual footage of the movie? damn. the official production group site has a bad link, and that's all i've found so far.
Jan. 24, 2007, 6:05 p.m. CST
Jan. 24, 2007, 7:12 p.m. CST
Goddamn Talkbackers... first! second! third! fourth!... I swear I'm gonna track every goddamn one of them down and choke them with their own frigging network cables! Worthless sons of bitches! Wait... no... it must be the signal, it's just the signal...
Jan. 25, 2007, 12:07 a.m. CST
a copy of my email to Harry, Quint and Rav: Hi, guys- I read Quint and Rav's reviews of The Signal, and I couldn't agree more that it has been one of the most entertaining films at Sundance thus far. I have never seen such a charged up crowd at a midnight movie before. There was just the right combination of horror, laughs, gore and erotica in the film, and it will definitely satisfy anyone who was a fan of 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead or the Evil Dead series. I'm really pleased to hear that the movie was picked up by Magnolia, since now have a bunch of friends who are dying to see this one. Interesting to read comments in the talk-backs about similarities between the premise of The Signal and Stephen King's book Cell. I had the same thoughts and had asked about this during the Q&A after the movie. As I recall, the director stated that the screenplay had been completed in October of 2005, well before Stephen King's book was released. Also, despite the similar premise, they two stories have little in common. I'll attach some photos: one is a picture I took of the The Signal one-sheet, which was posted in the lobby of the Egyptian theater; the others are from the Q&A.
Jan. 25, 2007, 12:32 a.m. CST
The Signal one-sheet and more pix from the premiere- including an audience shot with Aaron from 24! (very nice, down-to-earth guy BTW) http://tinyurl.com/ysb9r4
Jan. 25, 2007, 9:27 p.m. CST
A friend of mine here in Atlanta worked on The Signal. It was shot from January 7 to January 24 2006, about 2 or 3 months before The Cell was published. The guys at POP Films are smart and creative, I do not think they set out to rip off other peoples ideas, besides, the idea of electronic devices causing people to go insane and kill is not new. We have teenagers texting while driving and killing people everyday.
Jan. 25, 2007, 9:30 p.m. CST
Jan. 28, 2007, 10:41 p.m. CST
...but that short 'Little Farm' was the worst piece of shit I've ever seen. 'Goodbye Mr. Snuggles', the short that preluded 'Fido', now THAT was something.
Feb. 2, 2007, 7:11 a.m. CST
by ye olde shiza
<b>Islander</b> <br><br> "Cell" came out Jan. 24, 2006 ... so your point's still valid, but just tweaking your timeline.
Jan. 9, 2008, 6:43 p.m. CST
I have seen the movie twice now, once by my self and once at a promotional screening. The audience reaction was amazing. There were lots of screams, laughter, uuoos and awwws. The movie is like a roller coaster, you just don't know what to expect. Best horror film in ages. I just hope they do a lot of T.V. spots to get the word out.
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