The Signal

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Anton Bitel's film review of The Signal
The Signal

The three writer/directors of The Signal, David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, are all present for the audio commentary on this DVD, although, rather unconventionally, each absents himself for his own section of the film, leaving it to the other two (who were on-set as DPs and dogsbodies) to offer their perspectives.

During this odd yet effective three-step, we learn that AJ Bowen (as Lewis) sported a beard to conceal a facial 'disfigurement' that the actor had incurred in a knife fight, and that some of the shuffling extras viewed in the background were genuinely oblivious 'crack zombie' passers-by searching for drugs on Atlanta's streets. The budget was "extremely low", and the shoot lasted a mere 13 days. All three filmmakers remain infectiously enthusiastic about their "huge experiment", and claim to be "still noting discoveries" in it every time they rewatch. They are not alone.

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Signal Breakdown is a five-minute electronic press kit-style promotional video, with lots of breezy soundbites from cast and crew, including the memorable observation from Jacob Gentry that "people still have to live their lives in an apocalypse". Inside Terminus is a 15-minute making-of featurette, focusing on the distribution of the film among three different directors, and suggesting that the great tonal differences between their respective segments only became clear once shooting had commenced.

Best of all, though, are the extra bits of film included on this disc. The Hap Hapgood Story is the complete 10-minute short film by Jacob Gentry that was to be recycled for the prologue to The Signal. At its full length, and without the cheesy soundtrack that was added to its cut-up version for the feature, it is a brutally haunting piece in its own right, with a memorably disturbing final line to boot.

The Transmission Webepisodes (12 minutes) are three short pieces, each made by one of the three directors, taking place in different parts of Terminus during the same apocalypse that features in The Signal. As David Bruckner explains in his brief introduction, the directors felt that there was "an infinite amount of stories to be told inside Terminus", all of which "ended badly". These are, needless to say, superb slices of life gone horribly awry.

The two deleted scenes ('the bike scene' and 'extended bat', the former appearing in two versions) are introduced respectively by Dan Bush and David Bruckner, and are also worth a look. Not that any of this matters, though, because it is more than likely that you will be too busy rewatching the feature itself to notice the considerable quality of these extras.

Reviewed on: 08 Apr 2009
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The Signal packshot
Three-part tale of horror sees a strange signal start to drive people crazy.
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Product Code: OPTD1086

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1

Extras: Directors

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