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The Signal 2007

The Signal

The Signal

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About The Signal 💬

  • Transmission begins.

Transmission 1: Crazy in Love
Transmission 2: The Jealousy Monster
Transmission 3: Escape from Terminus

  • Do you have the crazy?

It's New Year's Eve in the city of Terminus and chaos is this year's resolution. All forms of communication have been jammed by an enigmatic transmission that preys on fear and desire driving everyone in the city to murder and madness.

  • No one escapes the signal.

In a place once marked by conformity but now sent into complete anarchy, the rebellious Ben Capstone (Justin Welborn) must save the woman he loves from the bedlam in the streets as well as her crazed sadistic husband. But the only way he can tell who to trust or who has given in to violence is by uncovering the true nature of The Signal.

  • Future of horror.

Told in three parts from three unique perspectives by three visionary directors, THE SIGNAL was originally conceived as an experimental film project called Exquisite Corpse where one filmmaker would begin a story then hand it off to another filmmaker to continue and then to another and so on until the movie was complete. The story eventually took shape and evolved into a sci-fi/ horror/thriller that imagines a world where everyday anxieties become the catalyst for inhuman terror. THE SIGNAL is a horrific journey towards discovering that the most brutal monster might actually be within all of us.


Dan Bush: I have a lot of big ideas. Massive ideas. Like dropping into the middle of a citywide sunrise apocalypse complete with raving mad lunatic armies colliding like the Battle of Sterling except instead of swords they carry modified household items designed to maim in a frighteningly simplistic kind of way. They're murdering each other because they can't see through their own mental ego-driven fog. Oh, and did I mention that the camera never cuts while it whirls around our hero protagonist as she carefully forges her way through the chaos step by calculated step? These are the kinds of ideas anyone might have if their job is to make Act 1 of a sci-fi horror movie depicting the end of the world. These are also the kinds of ideas that go nowhere when you're still arguing with one of your producers about whether or not you can shoot Act 1 in four days. Maybe five. Probably four. Okay fine. This is how it is. So how does one with such limited means introduce the audience to a giant all-encompassing shit-storm? The only answer could be perspective.

I decided just do that thing where you tell the whole story from one person’s POV! It's visceral. It's fun. It's like the angry stepchild of video games and movies. As long as Mya hides from the demons, we only have to show them when she peeks around the corner. We would use everything we could to emphasize this: the camera, the language, the sound, the pacing, the editing, even the music. Satisfied with my new big idea, I hit print and ran off to play.

Pretty soon after that, I realized that there were these two other guys. I remembered them from before. They were my friends. In fact, we had all agreed to make this movie together. But they kept asking me questions. Crazy questions like, ''Do you think Mya's relationship with her boyfriend could maybe, I don't know, mean something?'' Or, ''What if we throw out your version of her husband and make him into this exterminator guy that I thought of.'' Or my favorite, ''Your script isn't funny Dave, funny things are better than not funny things. This is always true.'' Maybe it didn't come to that, but it definitely felt that way. It turns out they had a lot of big ideas too. There was no getting away from it. No hiding in my own creative happy place. We would have to collaborate. I don't mean sit around and talk about each other's work like we'd done for years. I mean take off the boxing gloves and really fight it out, argue passionately for the little glimpses of the impact that it seems you can neither describe nor justify. We began to make little deals: ''Okay Dave, you can kill Jerry with the baseball bat, but Rod’s gonna need to find something else to duct tape knives to because Lewis has the baseball bat at that point in MY movie!'' Or ''Listen! I have to be able to wreck the fucking car if you're gonna set some dude on fire! That's only fair!'' I realized pretty soon that I had to learn how to talk about my big ideas or they weren't worth very much. I had to learn to communicate why something had to be one way as opposed to another. Surely they would understand my unbreakable logic. Surely we could collaborate.

Perspective was, in the end, the variable that made it possible. I don't think we would have been able to make this movie if the structure didn't somehow justify three separate styles. Although we managed to fit our jigsaw puzzle together, the movies were inherently different. They just worked from a different logic. But then again, so did the characters they were representing. Perhaps that was part of the charm. Perhaps that was the whole point. Perhaps that said something about something that I had started talking about back when I had my big idea. Perhaps. At least I got my sunrise apocalypse.

David Bruckner: The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn: a radical re-assessment of all the facts.

It is the 11th hour. The final script is past due and if we hope to begin shooting on schedule, none of what is happening is possible.

What is happening? A fundamental change to our story and the script we call ''Terminus.'' Being that I am the guy responsible for resolving this story in Act 3, this means I am fucked. ''Don't you see?'' I stress, ''If you change the rules of the game in Act 1, there is no Act 3 - it no longer exists!'' This is true. Especially when you have no less than three driven writer/directors telling one big story. So I refuse. ''You can't just invent a new labyrinth.'' To which someone says, ''I don't think you really have to change anything, Dan.'' I try to reorder my universe. I test the new idea against my plot. It's like an earthquake hit my story. Every road to my ending is blocked or destroyed. ''How can you change the beginning and expect to have the same conclusion?'' But even as I blurt these words, the unimaginable dawns on me. Nothing in act three would work anymore; every action, every line, every detail of my story is absolutely dependent on the previous two acts. In one instant all of it has become irrelevant. Act 3 would have to be rewritten from scratch.

It's about point-of-view. It's about shared identity. It's about the interconnected structure of reality despite the end of the world.

This was the first of many trials-by-fire: more training for ''finding the zone'' as a director when the challenges are non-stop. And though this was only the first of many battles that dogged our every step while making ''The Signal,'' I realized that if you are on to something good you have to get out of the way of that goodness. The battle isn't with each other; it's within yourself... And the darkest hour is always just before dawn. Even though I had already rewritten Act 3, we decided to call Bruck and tell him that we were all wrong and that it was his act that would have to go. Just to scare the shit out of him. I hope, that just for a moment, he felt the hell that I had gone through. Just to give him a taste of that beast we all call ''The Signal.''

Jacob Gentry: The second greatest moment in my professional life was walking into the mother of all independent record stores, Amoeba Records in Los Angeles, and wandering upstairs to the video department to find that on their own volition they had displayed my first feature film Last Goodbye in the CULT section. If you are wondering why this so appealed to me then allow me to explain.

The concept of ''Genre'' hangs over every decision you make as a film producer. What kind of movie is this? Who will want to watch this? Is it a Comedy? Drama? Action? Thriller? Western? What is the single phrase I can use that essentializes this piece of filmed entertainment down to the most articulate degree of categorization? Is it a Romantic-Comedy? Science Fiction-Fantasy? Soft-Core Porn? Audiences want to specify the type in order to feel comfortable with their choices. It allows people to feel like they can quantify the movie-going experience: I can feel safe in my decision to watch this Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman suspense-thriller because this is the kind of movie I know I like.

However, despite this widely accepted filing system we try to maintain, there ever so often comes a movie that refuses to be labeled. In sneak these little movies that mess up our well-oiled organizational machine by defying genre. Who do they think they are? I can't use that many hyphens when describing this movie to my friends! So to maintain order we give a genre to the genreless. We call them CULT. We call them cult because: since they defy generalization they are little orphans who have no home. Then one day, a small group of people who fancy themselves outsiders take these little orphans into their lives and hearts and build a cult around them. They feel an ownership over this unwanted jewel because they loved it despite the rest of the world casting it aside, the mean old world that threw it away due to its lack of genre. They love it despite box office take or critical reception. They love it for it's odd nature or left-field sense of humor. They love it because it is more extreme in it's sex and violence than others are willing to be. They love it for its big ideas that may seem too far-out for the mainstream. They love it because the closest genre it can represent is now out of fashion. They love it because it's theirs.

So there it was on the shelf, my movie, placed in that special echelon of alternative masterpieces the likes of Repo Man, The Big Lebowski, Pink Flamingos, Plan 9, Rocky Horror, Oldboy, Donnie Darko, Eraserhead, Deathrace 2000. (And speaking of Deathrace 2000, if you're interested in my first greatest moment, it was standing on the set of Last Goodbye with cult film legend David Carradine as he regaled me with mind-blowing stories from his fascinating career. He had just come off of Kill Bill, so it was a particularly interesting time in his life. He said something about himself that sums up my affection for movies: ''I can safely say I’m the only actor who has been directed by both Ingmar Bergman and Fred Williamson.'' Wow. There could not be two more seemingly disparate filmmakers than this Swedish existentialist auteur of isolation and despair and this ex-football player turned blaxploitation icon. But that's just it, their fundamental differences being a common thread in Carradine's life is what makes the realm of possibilities within movies so damned exciting! So what does all this have to do with The Signal? I'll tell you.

When we set out to make the signal, the first thing we even talked about was the genre. It was the most overriding principle guiding the writing of the screenplay. We're making a horror movie. Horror movies are hot right now. We can sell a horror movie. We must stay true to the genre of horror. All our influences must be horror film-related. HORROR! Now anybody who has done anything creative knows that limitations and constraints breed the highest level of creativity. I'm not sure if I would consider the horror genre to be a constraint, but in order to give it respect, there are certain things you try to avoid. Such as? Well, you don't want to not scare people. And you want to ensure a proper level of horrific-ness. We actually had a sheet given to us that had rules on it. It was basically the ''If you want to make a horror movie don't reinvent the wheel, just make sure you have a violent death every ten pages'' sheet. Now I thought this was a fun challenge. It was a rule that forced us to be more creative. Okay, fine. If I have to follow your stupid rule to kill someone every ten pages then I'm going to REALLY KILL THEM every ten pages. It will be the most extreme example of this rule. I'm usually ambivalent toward rules in general, but they always seem to make me do better. They also keep you on track when you’re writing with two other people. Our collective stubborn defiance of rules allowed for some really cool stuff that we would have been too lazy to strive for if we weren't trying to fly in the face of limitations.

One rule that I think crosses all genres and is said to be the thing that distinguishes the film from all other art forms is Suspense. Suspense is a funny thing. It's an obvious thing, but not necessarily an easy thing, and it kind of applies across the board. I think that what makes horror work is the same mechanism that makes comedy work: ''Anticipation.'' Horror is kind of the ultimate forum for suspense because in order to scare people, that level of Anticipation must be so high that when it's paid off people shit their pants. That pay-off has to completely subvert their expectations even if it is just to fulfill them: I was expecting you to do this, but I anticipated it so long that I started to think you were going to do something else, then you did the thing I expected but by that time I wasn't expecting it. And when you did it you did it in a way I never expected. ''SUBVERSION OF EXPECTATIONS.'' I was expecting you guys to give me a run-of-the-mill Horror movie because that was the compartment it was put into by the genre. I like my horror like I like my coffee, consistently black.

The jury is still out on whether we were successful in our attempt to subvert your expectations. But we set out to make a Horror movie. Hopefully, we made a movie that has all the things you've come to expect from a Horror movie, but in the most extreme ways possible. Maybe it will work for you as a straight up and down scream fest. But, hopefully, we gave you a little extra. Hopefully, we were so intent on not being tied down that we gave you some Science Fiction, some Romance, some Farcical Comedy, some Meditative Poetry. I hope we made a movie with big ideas and strong emotional power delivered with the ultimate level of excitement. And hopefully, through our own stubbornness and defiance of rules we have made a movie that is more than just a horror film, but a fresh and original hyphenate that totally subverts your expectations. And maybe someday it will end up in the cult section of Amoeba Records.

The Signal Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Dan Bush

David Bruckner

Jacob Gentry

Writing Credits

Dan Bush

David Bruckner

Jacob Gentry


Justin Welborn

Anessa Ramsey

AJ Bowen

Sahr Ngaujah

Matthew Stanton

Suehyla El-Attar

Scott Poythress

Cheri Christian

Christopher Thomas

Chad McKnight

Lindsey Garrett

Music by

Ben Lovett

Genres: Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi (Science Fiction), Thriller

Country: United States

The Signal Official Trailer

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