starring Anessa Ramsey, Sahr Nguajah, AJ Bowen, Matt Stanton
written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
starring Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Kat Dennings, Robert Downey Jr.
screenplay by Gustin Nash
directed by Jon Poll
by Walter Chaw I'm not sure how The Signal could possibly avoid becoming some kind of cult classic, given that it apes bona fide cult classics like Evil Dead II, Dead Alive, and Shaun of the Dead with so much unabashed glee. Its cast of amateur actors and its trio of rookie directors reek of first-timer's brinkmanship, with the presumed luxuries of no budget and a lot of time to watch horror flicks having resulting in a bloated, over-stuffed sausage of a picture that hits once or twice in the gore bits while badly miscalculating a time or two in flashes of real ugly sadism. I liked The Signal fine, but aesthetically, it's distanced: It's not fun but it thinks it's fun, and it's only really interesting if you're already (over)familiar with the classics of the splatter genre. Put it up against Edgar Wright's pictures (and The Signal looks a lot like the Don't trailer Wright produced for Grindhouse) to chart the difference between films that work as exceptional examples of the genres they're aping and neo-Shrek wannabes that play like a trivia game for folks pleased to recognize a severed-head-in-a-vise gag from one of the most storied independent success stories of all time.