Dark Signal: Neil Marshall-produced supernatural mystery is a classy, stylish and spooky delight
For Italian horror fans, the domestic release of director Edward Evers-Swindel’s British supernatural chiller Dark Signal (which is executive produced by The Descent and new Hellboy director Neil Marshall) will be of interest for the presence of Cinzia Monreale, the iconic blind poster girl for Lucio Fulci`s The Beyond. Add to that nifty bit of cult film casting the fact that Dark Signal is a first rate, mature and stylishly-produced piece of horror entertainment and you have more than a few reasons to seek it out.
The film stars the charming Siwan Morris as Laurie, the cynical host of a tiny radio station in scenic North Wales and a woman who is at a crossroads in her professional (and personal) life. Her overnight show is about to go off the air and seemingly none of the big terrestrial radio stations want to hire her. She’s too “edgy” they say. But on the eve of her final show, her long-suffering producer and reluctant friend Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd, Torchwood) brings on a noted psychic and medium Carla (Monreale) who takes Laurie’s caustic jabs about her gifts with a smile and shrug. But when Ben and Carla hear what sounds like a voice breaking through their live signal, the pair slowly and surely surmise that a spirit is using their frequency to break through. Convincing the eye-rolling Laurie to turn her final show into a live paranormal investigation, things get spookier and spookier as the dead speak and lights flicker and soon Laurie is a believer. Meanwhile, parallel stories involving a roving serial killer and timid single mother (Joanna Ignaczewska) being manipulated by her dirtbag boyfriend into being the driver for a robbery play out. How are these narrative arcs connected? We won’t tell. But if you like supernatural chillers with twists in their tails, you might very well dig how it all comes together.
Dark Signal is ambitious and plays its horror and mystery dead straight, a refreshing approach that proves just how sincere Evers-Swindel is about his first film. Which is not to say that there aren’t moments of humor to warm to in the film. Morris is a joy, with her bugging eyes and sharp with an unimpressed sneer and the chemistry she shares with David-Lloyd is organic and believable and often hilarious. And man, I’m not sure why Italian women age so well, but Monreale looks amazing, a mature beauty who effortlessly walks away with the film with her intelligent sensuality and professional presence. Ignaczewska is also good, a spunky and vulnerable heroine who is multi-layered and beautiful.
If there’s any problem with Dark Signal it’s that it’s almost too loaded with stuff. Narratively, it’s a kitchen sink horror flick with elements of ghost story, psycho-thriller, torture shocker, family drama, action thriller and more. But Evers-Swindel still manages to make most of it work and even when the film stumbles, it’s still compelling and interesting, thanks again to its top drawer cast and, especially, its gorgeously photographed locations.
XLrator Media will be releasing Dark Signal in theaters on June 2nd and on VOD and iTunes on June 6th. You’d be well advised to make some time for it.