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Dark Signal (2016)

Dark Signal (2016)

Writers: Edward Evers-Swindell, Antony Jones
Director: Edward Evers-Swindell
Tagline: Fear The Returned

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Full Review

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Dark Signal is a horror genre mashup from Wales. Before talking about the film, a couple of points about the credits: The DVD cover makes big play of Neil Marshall's involvement, but this is misleading - he's simply one of several listed producers. Also, try to avoid reading the cast listing on IMDB or elsewhere as the character names include massive spoilers.

OK, what about the film itself? Well, it's strange - as a I said, a genre mashup with the subgenres involved being slasher and ghost with a touch of techno.

The story takes place in the context of a serial killer stalking the Snowdonia area of North Wales. Once that's been established there are two main story threads.

One involves Joanna (Kate Komisarczyk), a single parent in dire financial straits. To try and make ends meet she agrees to help her friend Nick to 'recover' some £40,000 'owed' to him by a local footballer. Needless to say, this plan proves to be seriously misguided.

The other thread follows Laurie (Siwan Morris), a local radio presenter on the last night of her contract. During the show her guest, psychic Carla (Cinzia Monreale), begins picking up the voice of a dead girl over the airwaves by some form of EVP.

Initially it's all very confusing. I had trouble working out which characters we were meant to be following and how they fit together. Even when it did settle down to the two threads it was still tricky to follow. That's partly because of the plot twist that finally brings the two together. It's undoubtedly clever but some might say too clever - though rewinding the film in my head a few times I can't find any actual cheating. Still, you might need a supersized pinch of salt.

Even when I didn't know what was going on I found the atmosphere tense and engrossing. For a slasher movie there's not a lot to appeal to gorehounds, though it does get very violent in places - especially near the end. That works for me, I prefer restrained menace to buckets of blood and Evers-Swindell handled the mood well.

Acting is good, especially Morris who has to spend most of the film sitting in a presenter's chair so makes up for this with a great range of facial expressions. The support cast includes well known faces Gareth David-Lloyd as Ben the radio producer and James Cosmo as the farmer.

So Dark Signal is a rather confusing film that requires more than usual concentration. Fortunately the atmosphere encourages perseverance and if you can handle the twist then it's a very satisfying variation on the usual slasher fare.