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Film / The Signal (2007)

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The Signal is a 2007 American horror film. It is told in three acts, each written and directed by a different individual but following the same story.

In the fictional city of Terminus, lovers Ben (Justin Welborn) and Mya (Anessa Ramsey) are awakened when a barrage of seemingly random sounds and colors begin emitting from Ben's television. The couple quickly discovers that telephones are similarly affected. Ben dismisses the disturbances and tries to persuade Mya to finally leave her husband Lewis.

After making tentative plans to leave Terminus with Ben the next day, Mya returns to her apartment building, but something is terribly wrong. Her neighbors are acting strangely and seem to be growing increasingly agitated and violent. Her husband Lewis most of all...

Not to be confused with the 2014 thriller of the same name.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acting Unnatural: A man has just been killed.
    Anna: [doorbell rings] Party guests!
    Clark: [holding bloody shovel] Act natural.
    Anna and Lewis: [line up behind Clark at the door with weapons ready]
  • Anachronic Order: The story takes small leaps backward and forward in several spots.
  • Anti-Villain: Despite brutally murdering several people, all Lewis wants to do is find and protect his wife even though she is cheating on him.
  • Batter Up!: Lewis's weapon for the first half of the film before switching to a tank of bug spray.
  • Brown Note: Although not everyone who is affected becomes violent, no one can encounter the Signal without having their perception of reality altered.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Jim Parsons maintains a supernatural level of obliviousness to the situation around him. This adds some great comedy to the film's second act, but unfortunately leads to Alone with the Psycho. Given how obsessed with sex he is (he has almost no lines not revolving around women) he may have been affected by the signal as well and become obsessed to the point of not noticing the chaos around him.
    • The brief glimpse of Ken and Anna's relationship prior to the Signal indicates that they were hardly normal to begin with.
  • The Determinator: Ben, Mya, and Lewis all follow this trope in their own distinctive way in their respective quests to find one another.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Rod is quite resourceful with it in an emergency.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The first scene is a campy homage to low-budget splatter movies that does not relate to the characters in the rest of the film.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Lewis slowly blinding Anna with the insecticide.
    • Later, Lewis attempts to gouge out Ben's eyes. He is unsuccessful.
  • Hate Plague
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Rod constructs a highly effective morning star using a metal stand, some steak knives, and duct tape.
    • Handyman Clark is capable of thwarting Crazies with anything from a shovel to an electric screwdriver.
    • Lewis (and eventually Ben) use a tank of bug spray offesively.
    • One of Mya and Lewis's neighbors is dispatched by another neighbor who cuts her throat with a pair of gardening shears.
  • Karmic Death: After entering Villainous BSoD Lewis electrocutes himself by punching his fist through a monitor displaying the Signal.
  • Left for Dead: It is not clear whether Jim and Anna are still alive at the end of their encounter with Lewis, though the odds are not good based on what we see.
  • Leitmotif: The music (being a cover of "Atmosphere") from Mya's CD player is an in-universe example which Ben ultimately uses to free her from the Signal.
  • Made of Iron: One of the side effects of the Signal is apparently being resistant to pain and injury. People in the grips of madness survive grievous injuries.
  • Mind Screw: The Signal messes with peoples' perceptions. Several scenes are re-shot with a different character to show how the perceptions of the infected are warped. In particular, Ben and Lewis keep swapping places in different shots, leaving it ambiguous as to who did what.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: Enforced due to all three members coming under the influence of the Signal at one point or another.
  • Rasputinian Death: Rod is horrifically clubbed in the skull with a hammer, shot multiple times and thrown through a windshield before finally being decapitated. Later, his severed head is briefly "re-animated" by a crazed, hallucinating Clark.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Rod drags Mya into the storage closet a sticker can be seen on the door that resembles the logo of Umbrella Corporation.
    • In the background of one shot, a dark-haired man in a blue shirt and dark slacks is chasing some people with a red chainsaw, making him look suspiciously like Ash Williams of Evil Dead.
  • The Smart Guy: Clark, who has a very solid hypothesis on what the Signal is doing to people and how. Later, after Lewis forces the Signal upon him, he becomes even more speculation obsessed, without becoming noticeably more violent.