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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Dark Signal

My notes on the UK horror film, available on US VOD platforms in the US June 6.

A well-constructed woman-vs-psycho movie with a supernatural element and a quite tricksy set-up.  Laurie Wolf (Siwan Morris), an ex-singer-turned DJ, hosts her last radio show from a small analogue station in North Wales, which is due to be shut down and folded into a national, digital network.  Working out of a castle-like WW2 communications centre with her tech guy Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd), Laurie is wittily bitter about the state of things – and haunted by a stalker attack that ended her singing career and caused a miscarriage.  Ben arranged for psychic Carla (Cinzia Monreale) to guest on the final show, and it seems that her presence summons a spirit  – who may be one of the victims of a finger-snipping maniac known as ‘the wedlock killer’.  Meanwhile, Kate (Joanna Ignaczewska) – struggling mother of a handicapped son – goes out with a shifty guy (Duncan Pow) who wants her to help him collect a debt, though he leaves her in the car as look-out in a remote area where a friendly-sinister farmer (James Cosmo) loiters, plainly up to no good.  Kate is the latest target of the bag-over-his-head madman, who wields giant shears, and the film cuts between the unfolding psychic kerfuffle on the radio show and Kate’s struggle against the  killer – with a late-in-the-film revelation that upsets preconceptions and brings the two threads together satisfyingly.

 

Morris (from the excellent UK werewolf show Wolfblood) and David-Lloyd (from Torchwood) are excellent in tailor-made roles, sparring and flirting with a nasty edge, while Ignaczewska (also in the decent little mind-twister The Scopia Effect) makes an appealing, resourceful heroine.  Monreale gets her head beaten in and tongue snipped out – which might be a nostalgic evocation of her work in the likes of The Beyond and The Stendhal Syndrome.  It probably overdoes the torture-porn stuff (that’s so 2008) with one scene pitting a woman with a hammered knee she’s splinted herself against a baddie with a spear-wound in his shoulder and the antagonists both going for the open wounds with teeth or thumbs – but it still works, even if the killer is more interesting with the bag off and chatting.  The ghost (Eleanor Gecks, from Young Dracula) is a Japanese style vengeance seeker, but helps out in the finale.

 

It’s obviously low-budget, though there’s a stunner of an aerial shot and nice use of landscape – it’s only a naff-looking CGI human torch effect at the end that lets the side down.  A whodunit angle involves a neat narrative trick that is nicely strung along till the reveal.  Written by Antony Jones and director Edward Evers-Swindell (Infestation).  Neil Marshall chipped in as executive producer.

 

Here’s a trailer.

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Discussion

One thought on “Film review – Dark Signal

  1. A correction – someone really was set on fire. Apologies for assuming they weren’t … https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DBiD0-nXgAEMp9K.jpg:large

    Posted by kimnewman | June 5, 2017, 9:04 am

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