The Signal Movie Poster Image

The Signal



Bloody, hallucinatory horror movie isn't for kids.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Infected characters are enraged and brutal; victims are mostly unable to fight back; no heroes.


Lots (cast list includes many "random bodies"). Image on a TV shows exploitation/slasher movie (women tied and tortured by man with hatchet, blood everywhere). First sign of trouble is a bloody man in the street, moaning in pain. Characters afflicted with a virus-like "signal" kill and assault others continually, using a car, a bat, garden shears, a knife, a gun, a shovel, bug spray, a hatchet, a chainsaw, a golf club, and a hammer. Woman slips on pooled blood in a hallway, bloody man is duct-taped to chair, bloody bodies appear strewn in the street, a man appears on fire, a man is decapitated (bloody head rolls on the floor).


Early scenes show lovers in bed, post-sex; he stands, and you see his naked bottom; she gets up to dress, appearing in bra and panties. Brief kiss near film's end. Occasional disturbing sexual language (e.g., "I'm just gonna grab a slut and pee in her butt," "She can feel my corn," "p---y," "boobs," "boner," "I made out with the dog for New Year's").


Many uses of "f--k," plus other profanity, including "s--t," "hell," "bitch," and "goddamn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking at a New Year's gathering. Occasional cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this bloody horror movie is absolutely not for kids. It's packed with gruesome violence, weapons (gun, knife, garden shears, vehicles, poison), and repeated physical assaults by "crazed" TV viewers. Bodies are visible in building hallways and streets, there's a bloody decapitation, killers stagger like zombies, and there's lots of screaming and fleeing. Since the film doesn't have a specific perspective and frequently shifts between hallucinatory images, it can be physically difficult to watch. An early scene shows a naked male bottom and a woman in her underwear. Language includes frequent uses of "f--k" and other profanity.

What's the story?

Structured in three sections, THE SIGNAL follows several linked storylines. It begins with Mya (Anessa Ramsey) and Ben (Justin Welborn), imagining a future without her jealous husband, Lewis (AJ Bowen). But even though she wants to get on a train with her lover, Mya heads home to the dreary apartment she shares with Lewis -- where she finds him infected with an apparent viral "signal" sent through the TV that incites viewers to commit terrible violence. The signal seems unstoppable -- TVs begin turning themselves on -- and paranoid fantasies bleed into memories and seemingly actual exchanges of blood and fury as neighbors turn on friends and husbands on wives. The first part of the movie follows Mya's attempt to escape, the second focuses on Lewis' efforts to control of himself in front of strangers, and the third tracks Ben (or maybe Lewis) to the train station where Mya is supposed to be.

Is it any good?


Full of bloody bodies and brutal violence, The Signal might be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill humans-go-brutally-crazy horror movie. But it has something else on its mind: Namely, a somewhat abstract, sometimes darkly funny consideration of the effects of mass media on careless consumers. While the premise isn't exactly news, this take gets points for its wildly shifting perspectives. Almost any moment that appears to make sense, or even grant a coherent point of view, soon turns nightmarish, as if the channels are switching randomly. But of course, there's no randomness here, only very bloody calculation. Mya may or may not be protected by the fact that she's wearing headphones to listen to Ben's mix CD. Ben may or may not escape from Lewis. Lewis may or may not come to understand himself as the ultimate consumer, so determined to possess his wife that he can't live without her -- or with himself.

The movie takes occasional moments to let characters ponder their impossible new world, as when Mya's neighbor (Sahr Ngaujah) wonders whether he's monstrous when he kills monsters -- i.e. whether self-defense makes him "crazy." Or when Clark (Scott Poythress), sympathetic and rational, asserts his completely sensible paranoia ("Everyone's a suspect now"). Alas, just when Ben thinks he's figured out the signal, he's fooled again. "It's a lie, it's a trick," he says. "We change the way we look at things, the things we look at will change." It's as good a summary of what you've been looking at as you're likely to get.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what the film is saying about violence and consumerism in media. Is it an effective message? Does the extremely violent context make it more or less successful? Can you think of other horror movies that try to make a serious point?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 21, 2008
DVD/Streaming release date:June 9, 2008
Cast:AJ Bowen, Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn
Directors:Dan Bush, David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong brutal bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and brief nudity.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bysara4ever95 May 9, 2009


What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bymetoman April 9, 2008

Very Tense

Very bloody. Not for kids.
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 January 30, 2012

Not for kids no matter what the hell you think.

Hyper violent and sucks.I have only seen this on DVD and I felt like sleeping.Its very boring and could permanently damage a child.Blood,blood,blood,everywhere .
What other families should know
Too much violence