Film Highlight: 'The Signal'

courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

area theaters, starts Friday

"Do you have the crazy?" a wild-eyed zombie fighter demands of his duct-taped captive. The Signal has the crazy, all right, bless its cold and sick little heart. A tag-team triptych by three directors, filmed in the hitherto untapped zombie haven of Atlanta, this uneven but impressive shot-on-digital shocker earns a marker in the ever-expanding mausoleum of apocalyptic horror. In three cleverly interlocked segments by writer-directors David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, and Dan Bush, a mysterious electronic signal brings out varying degrees of bloodlust in anyone who encounters it. Soon, the streets are littered with bodies, and the stories chart the progress of three people—a cheating wife (Anessa Ramsey), her determined lover (Justin Welborn), and her murderous husband (A.J. Bowen)—through this harsh new realm. The splattery, satiric black comedy of the second segment is the highlight, but the others make the most of their modest production values with well-chosen locations, anxious handheld camera, and judicious gore. In the end, the movie's feeble (and thankfully few) attempts at blast-in-the-face scares are less effective than its low-budget, ground-level evocation of a world tilted off its axis.

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