Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dark Signal (2016)

Laurie Wolf is not a happy woman.  She’s looking for a job, as she was recently terminated by a radio station.  In fact, she’s going in to do her last show.  Her technician, Ben, has invited Carla Zaza on the show.  Laurie isn’t thrilled, as Carla is a psychic.  She wants to play her own play list and just finish out her time.  (Ben eventually convinces her, as letting Carla on would anger the station’s management.)

We also have Ben’s friend, Kate.  Kate would go for the final airing of Laurie’s program except that she has to help Nick.  Nick tells Kate that he’s going to collect money from some rich guy who won’t pay up.  All Nick needs Kate to do is sit in the car and maybe get rid of anyone who shows up.  It sounds sketchy, but Kate needs the money for her son.

All of this sounds easy enough, even with a serial killer out there on the loose.  Wouldn’t you know, things go sideways.  Carla apparently makes contact with a spirit.  Laurie is skeptical at first, thinking that Carla and Ben are playing some joke, but they try again, getting better results as they go on.

Even Kate has her scary moments.  A man knocks on the window of her car and offers to help her out.  Kate tries to get rid of him, eventually telling him that her boyfriend noticed some escaped livestock on a neighboring property.  She knows that Nick is withholding information.  If that’s not enough, he stops answering his phone.  Oh, and there’s one too many faces in Kate’s selfie.  (That’s not even the scary part.)

I’ve never really liked scary movies, per se.  I’m not the kind of person that likes scares.  Those that aren’t scary tend to be hokey, so it’s nearly impossible for me to win.  However, I wanted to watch a scary movie or two in anticipation of a possible Halloween rush.  I’m not even really certain what I expected here.  Part of it was that I recognized the actor playing Ben, Gareth David-Lloyd from Torchwood.

I think part of it is that it’s not quite a thriller and not quite a horror movie.  It has supernatural and paranormal elements, but not to the point that it’s a true paranormal movie.  There’s not a real mystery element, either.  The serial killer is mentioned early in the movie and all but forgotten about until the end of the movie for the big reveal.  Instead, we get a few mild scares that you can sort of see coming.

This is kind of like a campfire story you might tell your friends.  It’s entertaining, but it’s not the kind of thing you watch if you were looking for big frights.  It’s more like the supernatural and horror elements are simply plot elements.  This isn’t to say that it’s bad.  I don’t recall ever being bored with the movie.  With a little reworking, it might even resemble a decent Twilight Zone episode.

The other thing is that there are two stories that don’t really work well together.  It’s like it came from two separate stories that couldn’t quite hold their own as a movie.  We get the sense that they’ll both come together, but there’s no real need for that.  Had these stories been done as part of a TV series, each could have worked separately.

It’s kind of hard to place this film with an audience.  It’s not the kind of film that’s meant to give you nightmares unless you’re frightened very easily.  Then again, it’s hard for me to judge someone’s tolerance for scares if I’m not meeting them face to face.  Those that don’t like horror are probably going to stay away from this and I don’t blame you.  It’s still maybe something you’d want to avoid right before bed.

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