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.