The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Magnolia - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 103 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Spanish, English
Starring: AJ Bowen, Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn, Scott Poythress, Sahr Cheri Christian, Chad McKnight
Directed by: David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, Dan Bush
Written by: David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, Dan Bush
Region Code: Not Indicated
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 10, 2008
"Do you have the Crazy?"
It’s New Years Eve in the city of Terminus, and chaos is this year’s resolution. All forms of communication have been jammed by a mysterious transmission that preys on fear and desire, driving everyone in the city to murder and madness.
I don’t consider myself to be a horror movie fan however I have nothing against them. I had never heard of this film prior to this review and had no expectations going in. The film opens with two women being terrorized by a maniacal killer who has them captive. You soon realize that what you are seeing is a television program/movie. The camera pans outward and reveals a couple lying in bed. The male is awakened by a strange sound that is now coming from the television. Later you find out that the sound is some form of interference, with a signal imbedded within it that drives people who view/listen to it for a short length of time, into murderous rampages. The same signal is being broadcast on every channel, over radio, telephone and cellular.
The story is told in three distinct parts and is directed by three separate directors. The opening segment sets up the three main characters and as things unfold becomes brutally graphic and violent. At that point I felt like I was watching another typical slasher type movie whose purpose was to see just how much gore could be fit into an hour and a half. The second segment totally took me off guard. It introduces three new characters, one of whom continues further into the story. This dealt with a couple who were planning a New Years Eve party and essentially decides that they are not going to let the crazy happenings (people killing one another outside their door) ruin their plans. Obviously that is not what occurs and things quickly turn to chaos. Amidst all of this the dialogue and situations took on a satirical edge that was comical at times. At that point the film took on a different feel which I found interesting. The third and final segment brought the three of them together. The final minutes were a little disjointed and I think I understood what they were shooting for but its hard to say for certain. This is a low budget production that to me appeared to make the most of their resources.
The rating is appropriate and is for brutal violence, gore, nudity and language. This is not one for young viewers!
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Signal Comes to Blu-ray featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 20 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound with an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
I have to admit that for a low budget film this soundtrack sounded really good. This is an aggressive mix that literally pounds the room with aural stimulation. The subwoofer was constantly at work delivering the extensive and sometimes room shaking low end activity. Chapter 15 (at about the 01:29 mark) contained a rich, deep low bass tone that must have reached down into the sub 30 hz regions. Dynamics were powerful and quick as the sounds emanating from the speakers traversed the room. Dialogue was crystalline through the center channel. Sonic details were crisp and airy with superb tonal quality. The entire surround platform was used to excellent effect to create an immersive and engaging experience.
The video presentation had a few minor issues. The first thing that struck me was that detail and sharpness were not consistent. There were many scenes were detail and perceptible resolution delivered images that were transparent with good dimensionality and depth. It should be noted that the majority of these shots were close ups. There were too many instances where the quality of the image softened and took on a duller appearance where fine detail disappeared. It was enough that I found it to be distracting. Colors were rendered cleanly with good variety and natural looking hues. The only thing I noticed was that reds leaned more toward sepia in tone than perhaps they should have. Fake blood is used quite a bit so it could be that this was done intentionally for some reason. Blacks were deep but slightly crushed which obscured some detail within dark areas and shadows. I didn’t notice any compression related video noise but edge enhancement was visible if I looked for it. This one will probably look better on smaller displays but I would not say that it was unacceptable at 96”.
The bonus content bundled along with The Signal is comprehensive and offers viewers a look at the minds behind the film. The three writers/directors offer their insights into the film from several perspectives which cover its concept and production. They included here The Hap Hapgood Story which is a short film shot by them back in 2003. It is featured in the film’s beginning and stars Scott Poythress who portrays Clark in The Signal. The Transmission pieces offers a “what if” look at several possible situations that could occur as a result of The “Signal”. My favorite was the Signal Breakdown feature as it looked at each of the films segments individually and broke them down. All in all I found these to be fairly insightful and mildly entertaining.
- 2 Deleted scenes
- The Signal (itself)
- Inside Terminus: The Making of The Signal
- Signal Breakdown
- Transmission Intro
- Transmisson 14: Technical Difficulties
- Transmission 23: The Return
- Transmission 37: Cross town Traffic
- The Hap Hapgood Story (short film)
- The Signal Director’s Commentary
I can’t say that I liked The Signal but I do think that it has something to offer. Its concept is not original but I appreciated its execution. This is a violent and bloody film that some may find objectionable so bear that in mind. On the positive side it has a serious soundtrack that will test the limits of your system when pushed. It is being released day and date on Blu-ray along with the DVD which I am sure fans will appreciate.
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Reference Review System:
Sony VPL-VW50 SXRD 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package