When filmmakers decide to create horror movies that pay homage to their own favorite films, the results can either be fantastically familiar yet original works of art or a jumble of too many ideas and not enough linear plot. Where on the spectrum did XLrator Media’s Dark Signal land?
The official synopsis for Dark Signal:
The spirit of a murdered girl returns with a message for the staff of a local radio station.
The film was directed and edited by Infestation’s (2005) Edward Evers-Swindell and executive produced by The Descent director Neil Marshall. The script was co-written by Evers-Swindell and Antony Jones. Dark Signal revolves around three main characters played by Siwan Morris (Wolfblood TV series), Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood TV series and frontman of the metal progressive band Blue Gillespie) and Joanna Ignaczewska (The Scopia Effect 2014), as well as cast members Duncan Pow (Rogue One 2016), Eleanor Gecks (Alice in Wonderland 2010), Cinzia Monreale (The Beyond 1981) and Braveheart’s (1995) James Cosmo. The special effects were created by Slobodan Velickovic (Howl 2015). The music for the film was compiled by William Evers-Swindell (Infestation 2005), with some songs being performed by Katherine Evers-Swindell (Dark Waters 2010). Apparently, Dark Signal was an Evers-Swindell party. But I digress.
Much to my dismay, Dark Signal was a jumbled mess of a film. The script tries to tell too many stories at once and waits until the very end to tie them all together. We have the tale of the couple, Laurie and Ben (Morris, David-Lloyd), working in a radio station being visited by a ghostly voice as well as the one about Kate (Ignaczewska), a broke, single mother of a mute, wheelchair-bound young boy (Kai Coleman) helping her boyfriend, Nick (Pow), rob the house of an old farmer (Cosmo). Both of these stories are playing out at the same time, as well as the skulking serial killer who likes to cut off the ring fingers of his victims. While this kind of storytelling can work, in this instance, the ties between the tales of the two women were tenuous at best and hard to follow besides. Having actors with such different accents – Welsh, Polish and Italian, just off the top of my head – didn’t help make the story any clearer. I was also confused as to the point of Kate’s wheelchair bound son. Was he only there to be a medium for the ghostly voice?
One thing I did love about the film was the cool twist at the end. I honestly did not see that one coming. It was an excellent way to tie all of the loose ends together. I also thought the chisel to the kneecap was pretty sweet, although the chick who received it did not seem very affected by the injury.
I think director Edward Evers-Swindell tried to put too many of his storytelling eggs in one basket, and unfortunately, it made for a confusing and lackluster film. However, I do think Dark Signal is worth a watch just for the twist alone. Although released in the UK in May of 2016, Dark Signal’s debut in American theaters will happen on June 2, 2017. If you’re willing to wait a few more days, the film will be available on VOD and iTunes on June 6th. So give it a watch and see if you can figure the twist out early.