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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Signal (2013)

This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
I'm well aware that Turkish cinema has a lot more to offer than just unauthorised reworkings of Hollywood classics with Cüneyt Arkin chewing up scenery; I even programmed a Turkish cyberpunk film, Perspective, in a set of shorts that I put together for DarkCon last year. Signal, however, is far too short to achieve the slightest of goals, with only two minutes to shine. It didn't help that it showed up right after the twenty of 'Til Death, which made it feel more like a surreal end credits sequence than a movie, but it played just as poorly on its own. It's not that it's bad per se, it's that it doesn't contain enough to tell a story, even if the writer/director, Lutfu Emre Cicek, does deserve praise for building layers into what works best as a sort of nightmare. We don't know who anyone is, we don't know why anything is happening and, honestly, we're not with the film long enough to care. From the perspective of a set of shorts, it's just a couple of minutes of filler in the middle. The question is whether it deserves to be anything more than that.

If it does, it has to be as a visual depiction of a nightmare. We watch a young lady being chased, only to pan out of the television to discover that another young lady is watching the first with us. It doesn't seem to be a movie, more like a clip from the YouTube of Death, because it quickly dissolves to static and so is promptly switched off. Our viewer making herself a cuppa offers only brief respite because the television turns itself back on and refuses to quit belching forth static even when the power cord is yanked. And the static then takes the form of a man, who appears behind her and murders her with extreme prejudice. It's nicely done, the imagery as staticky as the character we're watching and the sound neatly timed. I liked the use of test card colours as a fill to the two dimensional killer. Perhaps, especially with the scene that follows this one, it would work as the prologue to one of those Japanese horror features that's all about the fear of new technology. As that, it's well done. As a standalone film, it's over before it can engage.

Signal can be viewed for free on YouTube.

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