Dark Signal Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
Released by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Directed by Edward Evers-Swindell
Written by Edward Evers-Swindell and Antony Jones
2016, 98 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on May 30th, 2016
Siwan Morris as Laurie
Gareth David-Lloyd as Ben
Joanna Ignaczewska as Kate
Duncan Pow as Nick
Cinzia Monreale as Carla
If you’ve been hankering for a horror film that merges the suspense of a supernatural thriller with the scares of an ‘80s slasher movie, then Dark Signal may be the film for you.
Following the final broadcast of a radio show in an isolated area of Wales, presenter Laurie (Siwan Morris) and her producer Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd) invite a medium onto the airways as their final guest, but things take a strange turn when she begins to pick up messages from the other side - of a girl, detailing her murder. While this is happening, single mother Kate (Joanna Ignaczewska) is helping her boyfriend (Duncan Pow) burgle a house out in the countryside by being his lookout. Unfortunately for them a killer is on the loose who likes to claim the wedding fingers of its victims, and these two stories collide in a series of dramatic events.
Merging these subgenres of horrors may be a little jarring for a lot of people, it shifts quickly from a slasher to something more sinister which can feel a little disjointed, but its a mix that is certainly interesting. The supernatural elements work better, not knowing where the next scare will come from makes it really intriguing, whereas the dark figure stalking the girl in the dark doesn’t bring anything new to the table. But how these two stories and genres come together proves this film has some surprising tricks up its sleeve.
There are plenty of scares but the most effective are the understated ones, while Kate is in the car taking selfies there are things hinted at, but not fully pointed out until a little bit later. This delayed scare tactic of, “did we really see that?” is unsettling and although they become more obvious as the film progresses, the initial fear is very well executed. The film turns into a rather Insidious affair with lots of jump scares to liven up its audience, but with excellent special effects, it is rather good fun.
An element that makes Dark Signal stand out is how it utilises the beautiful backdrop of North Wales to its fullest extent, which makes for some stunning cinematography. The opening sweeping shots of the countryside are not only gorgeous to look at, they also highlight how remote these characters are. And not just the couple in a remote country house, the radio station is particularly quirky, a spooky white building isolated amongst the hills under a full moon. It’s an intriguing building and nicely used by the filmmakers, they didn’t need to bother with these outside shots of the station but it works in creating a detached, eerie place, adding to the overall creepiness of the film.
As mentioned, the slasher side to the movie is not as interesting as the supernatural elements and the performances have a lot to do with that. The characters in the radio station are much more entertaining, especially Ben who nails the comedic timing, giving a rather dark film some light relief. His chemistry with station DJ Laurie highlights why the other scenes of the film do not work as well, and it’s almost a relief to be back with these characters when we switch back.
A lot of the film’s current attention is due to the producer credit for Neil Marshall (director of The Descent) which is a great name to have with the movie, but it’s worth pointing out this is the directorial debut for Ed Evers-Swindell and it’s a promising start for someone who obviously has a keen eye for what makes a horror film really get under your skin and his love for the setting of the movie shines through. It may be a little rough around the edges but Dark Signal is a quirky, cool movie and it will be interesting to see where Evers-Swindell goes next.