The Signal - Cut from Art of Horror Vol1 due to spacing

Mya Denton has been carrying on an affair with Ben behind her boyfriend's back. Ben tries to convince Mya to run away with him and leave the city of Terminus forever. Not ready for this commitment, she protests and gets ready to head home. Ben gives her a mixed CD before she heads on her way. After her departure, Ben turns on the TV to find a strange signal playing. This signal will soon consume all of Terminus, transforming everyone who looks at it into murderous psychopaths. It's a race against time and all Mya has for a weapon is her Discman.

This movie is broken up into three 'transmissions' or parts. At the helm of each of these is a different director. You might think this wouldn't work well, but it actually keeps each part fresh and the pacing at an even keel. It maintains an intense and interesting, though occasionally nonsensical, story throughout. The ending of each “transmission” blends seamlessly into the next, making you want to find out what happens next. The story is simple - a signal makes people crazy - but it has a good social commentary behind it. Thankfully, however, this isn't crammed down your throat like in some other movies in the genre. At its core though, The Signal is a love story: it’s a simple tale of a boy searching for a girl despite increasingly bleak odds. Really the best kind of love story in my opinion. Unlike Cloverfield… where the odds were not just bleak, but totally impossible, I mean the guy tries to find his girlfriend in a building that is literally in two pieces. Just give up. Why are you dragging your friends along to die with you? But I digress...

The Signal has some very memorable characters. More so than most horror movies I've seen, in fact. The two protagonists are likable and you genuinely want to see them succeed. I find this rather impressive. When I first watched this I was going through a phase where I favoured a harsh and brutal ending to movies. Not here though. I was rooting for Ben, played by Justin Welborn, and Mya, played by Anessa Ramsey the whole way through. The main antagonist, Mya's boyfriend Lewis, the always excellent A.J. Bowen, is just as memorable... maybe more so. His portrayal of the jilted-lover-turned-lunatic is perfect. He skirts the edges of insanity while still managing some lighthearted moments from time to time. He is blindly seeking Mya and won’t let anybody stand in his way. Really, when I think of it, every character in this movie brings something special to the story as it unfolds. Hands down some of the funniest lines are delivered by Jim Parsons though. "Lewis and Clark? Where's Sacajawea?" But I think, unequivocally, my absolute favourite line from any character in any movie is uttered by the character of Clark...."This is without a doubt the most fucked up day in the history of mankind – we should go back inside."

In 2013 I started writing reviews of horror films. I wrote one very small blurb about my top 31 every single day that October. While it was difficult to choose which movies would even make the list, I knew that The Signal would be in the number one spot. You can take the best elements from practically every single movie in the genre: the humour of Trick R’ Treat or Return of the Living Dead, the intensity of The Strangers or the Devil's Rejects and the brutal special effects of Inside or Frontiers and if you wrap them all up in a love story and you get The Signal. It didn't best the others in regards to each individual element, it won because it blends them seamlessly into one perfect movie. Now, years later, my top choice has probably changed at this point, but one thing has never changed and that is how much I love this film. I can go back and watch it any time.

Do I think you'd enjoy it? Well, I can't say for sure. Having three sections (transmissions) of such varying tones is a little unusual and might be off-putting to some. I do, however, think they managed to put them together in a rather cohesive narrative that works well. If you have not seen this, I urge you to find a copy as soon as possible. Who knows, maybe it will be your new favourite horror movie as well.

What We Become (Sorgenfri)

In a small town in Denmark called Sorgenfri, things seem peaceful. Families are having barbecues, kids are playing and young love is in the air. Things are good. However, slowly, the mood of the town changes. People start to get sick, an old man goes missing. Soon, Sorgenfri finds itself in a state of emergency and the soldiers flood in. The question is; can the military keep things in order as the mysterious illness spreads? One family is about to find out.

Little story before I start. I watched about 15 minutes of a fairly poor version of this movie. The subtitles were translated from Danish verbatim and the sentence structuring is not quite English-compatible. [I would re-watch for a couple to complete the story or not mention examples]. Needless to say, it made for a very awkward viewing experience. Point of the story is that I decided to buy a copy. I wanted to get get a nice HD copy for viewing with proper subtitles and it was like pulling teeth. I even went so far as to spend some time on tech support with with someone who couldn't help me whatsoever. Jesus Christ on a cracker! After failing to purchase it through every single means available for instant streaming, I gave up. I was forced to continue on my Danish adventure. In the end, though, having to put up with bad subtitles was completely worth it.

The story centers around one family, consisting of patriarch Dino, mother Pernille, son Gustav, daughter Maj and her pet Ninus. A strange illness has overtaken their town and the military is quarantining individual houses in an effort to contain the spreading infection. This mysterious illness, you may have guessed, leads to zombification! Of course it does. When does it not?

The 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead is easily one of my favourite zombie films. The first 15 minutes of it is probably my favourite opening of any movie, ever. It perfectly sets up the start of a zombie apocalypse. It ramps up slowly, ending in a nightmare drive through the suburbs and a panoramic shot of the chaos of the surrounding city. The rest of Dawn of the Dead is good but man, that start is just excellent. What We Become doesn't start as memorably, but it does a really great job of capturing that uneasy feeling of something terrible just below the surface…

There are few comedic moments that are not too goofy for a horror flick. Unlike in Green Inferno, where the jokes rob the film of its atmosphere, they never took away from What We Become's feel of looming dread.. One scene in particular stands out for me. When Maj is first seen playing happily with Ninus, (who is a little bunny) at the start, I naturally assumed foreshadowing and pictured the inevitable zombie feast. Well, I was sort of right... The military is regulating food rations due to the epidemic, and thanks to disaffected Gustav's prior stupidity the supply has been cut off . There is a cut to the family eating a nice hearty stew just as Maj comes into the room saying that she can't find Ninus. Everyone around the table has this great look of shame on their faces as they explain that rabbits 'sometimes just run away' and that they 'have a way of getting out.' It's funny without being cheery.

One strange moment has the mother walk in on Gustav fooling around with the neighbour's daughter. This is right after a scene where this same girl's mother died. I guess she got over it pretty quickly. It was over so fast that afterwards that I wasn't sure whether or not it was just that my copy of the movie was messed up.

What We Become is a great zombie movie. Very easily one of the best ones I have seen in 2016 (though it was released in 2015). I can't recall being so engaged since 28 Weeks Later. They just don't have the same urgency they used to have. The Walking Dead isn't a bad show, but I never get that churning terror in my gut for anything on screen. In The Walking Dead, the zombies seem like more of an inconvenience than an actual threat. It was great to have that feeling again from a genre that has become so over-saturated.

Is this worth watching? I think so, if you can find it... Good luck with that. Unless of course you speak Danish... Is this a perfect movie? Not really, it felt a little slow and padded in the middle but I think the product as a whole was fantastic. Also, it has one of the best third acts I have seen in a long, long time. I was glued to my seat as the last 30 minutes played out.

Check it out if you can.