'Signal's' horror is pieced together

Watching television actually does become hazardous to your health in the scrappy new horror film "The Signal," opening Friday.

Set in the fictional town of Terminus, "The Signal" revolves around the blood baths that ensue after a hypnotic kaleidoscope signal is transmitted on television, turning viewers into mindless killing machines. Relentlessly bloody, the film also has a lot of fiendish humor reminiscent of Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead."

David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, who happen to be fans of the Raimi classic, each wrote and directed one of the film's three acts.

"The Signal," which has been playing the festival circuit since its unveiling at Sundance last year, was shot in Atlanta.

"Atlanta has become this kind of thriving indie punk scene," says Bush, who has been friends with Bruckner and Gentry for eight years and directed the final segment. "There is a lot of conversation and excitement about what is cinema, what is the moving image, what is narrative."

The avant-garde PushPush Theater members "put out challenges every quarter to indie filmmakers to get them out of their comfort zone," says Bush. "We get everybody to try to challenge themselves and make movies in a new way."

"The Signal" was born out of one of these experimental films, called "The Exquisite Corpse," where each filmmaker would make a piece of the movie and then hand it off to another director. "It was really fun, and it went really well."

But could they make a cohesive feature that way?

"We sat down and conceived of this world called Terminus, which is [to Atlanta] what Gotham City is to New York," says Bush. "We came up with the rules of it, and then we went off and developed our characters. We all wrote the story, but wrote and helmed our individual screenplays. There was a lot of puzzling pieces and us late at night in a room trying to figure out the continuity. So it was really fun."

-- Susan King

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