DARK SIGNAL

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

With a tagline proclaiming “Fear the returned” and Neil Marshall’s name plastered all over the promotion, people tuning into Dark Signal might be forgiven for expecting something overwrought and ridiculous but basically fun, along the lines of Dog Soldiers or Doomsday. Edward Evers-Swindell’s film piles on the red herrings and goes to town bringing its characters together with contrived connections, but still manages to be rather duller than even misplaced expectations might lead you to anticipate.

The issue is that Dark Signal at heart wants to be taken Seriously – as demonstrated beyond any doubt by the back-story given to Siwan Morris’ character Laurie – while nevertheless simultaneously attacking the paranormal elements of its plot with as much gusto as the sound effects can muster. The result is a jigsaw puzzle of a film which, if in the end Evers-Swindell more or less pulls the pieces together, will still leave the audience rather confused as to the emphasis the director was seeking to throw his weight behind.

There are, at the offset, two stories taking place in tandem with one another, one the tale of immigrant single mother Kate (Joanna Ignaczewska), who’s so behind with the bills that we initially see her as her severely disabled son has his television taken away by the repossession team. Help is potentially at hand in the form of boyfriend Nick, owed £40,000 by a footballer acquaintance and seeking Kate’s assistance in a scheme to get it back. While Nick and Kate drive out to the footballer’s home in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night, we are concurrently shown the last night of DJ Laurie and her sound engineer Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd)’s radio career, as they put out one final show before the station goes over to a centralised digital platform. When guest psychic Carla (Cinzia Monreale) conjures up actual voices from apparently beyond the grave, the two stories collide in all manner of mostly predictable ways.

Siwan Morris is a decent actress, but is never remotely convincing as a (vinyl) disc jockey, and that’s half the battle lost. That Dark Signal gets mislaid somewhere between hysterical Japanese ghost story and cool supernatural mystery is the other half of the fight, and it’s one the film does its damnedest to succeed at in spite of obvious problems. Notwithstanding the storytelling feints and a temporal element that’s both too heavily foreshadowed to be the twist it wants to be and too confusing to make the narratives entirely converge, the plot is so riddled with clichés it can’t maintain any real sense of suspense, and although Dark Signal is an accomplished production it will ultimately come as something of a disappointment to anyone watching with their brain engaged.

DARK SIGNAL / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: EDWARD EVERS-SWINDELL / SCREENPLAY: EDWARD EVERS-SWINDELL, ANTONY JONES / STARRING: SIWAN MORRIS, GARETH DAVID-LLOYD, JOANNA IGNACZEWSKA, DUNCAN POW, CINZIA MONREALE, JAMES COSMO / RELEASE DATE: MAY 30TH


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