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Originally published Friday, February 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Gorefests not as easy to film as they look

"The Signal," with A. J. Bowen, Justin Welborn, Anessa Ramsey, Scott Poythress. Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob...

1.5 stars "The Signal," with A.J. Bowen, Justin Welborn, Anessa Ramsey, Scott Poythress. Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry. 99 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence and gore). Several theaters.

The indie horror movie "The Signal" plays like a film-school experiment gone terribly wrong; it's certainly horrific, but in all the wrong ways. Three writer/directors (David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry) each tell a third of the story, from a different perspective: In the city of Terminus, all communications have been jammed by a mysterious signal, and murderous zombies roam the streets. A guy kills people with garden shears; bloody corpses litter the hallways of the world's most depressing apartment building; holes get drilled in an unfortunate person's head; and somebody in a pink sweater is giving a party.

Quite possibly Bruckner, Bush and Gentry are talented filmmakers, but you wouldn't know it by watching this intentionally ratted-up movie, filled with deliberate skips, static, and melting-film effects. The actors are amateurish (though Anessa Ramsey's fierce work, as a young woman determined to survive this mysterious apocalypse, indicates that she's destined for something better); the black comedy heavy-handed; the gore repellent. In a world filled with zombie gorefests, "The Signal" distinguishes itself only by being more self-consciously complicated than most. Three heads, it appears, aren't necessarily better than one.

— Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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