Dark Signal (UK DVD)


Dark Signal UK DVD SleeveStarring Siwan Morris, Gareth David-Lloyd, Joanna Ignaczewska, James Cosmo

Directed by Edward Evers-Swindell

Distributed by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Edward Evers-Swindell’s supernaturally-tinged horror Dark Signal starts off promisingly enough: a TV news report informs us of a new serial killer, dubbed The Wedlock Killer, stalking the Welsh countryside. Said killer’s name is informed by their MO – a penchant for murdering women and then chopping off the ring finger with a pair of bolt cutters.

The killer’s brutality is ably demonstrated within the first few minutes of Dark Signal, as a home-alone young woman meets a grisly end at the hands of the unhinged savage.

Moving on, we’re introduced to struggling single mother Kate (Ignaczewska). On the verge of losing everything to crippling debt, and folding under the pressure of caring for her disabled young son, she’s easily roped into her boyfriend’s plan to rob a secluded farmhouse owned by someone who cheated him out of quite a sizable sum of cash.

Meanwhile, Kate’s also been talking online regularly with Ben (David-Lloyd), a local radio co-host who, alongside workmate Laurie (Morris), is gearing up for the last ever show to broadcast from their quaint countryside station.

Things take a turn for the worse when Kate, acting as lookout for her boyfriend, is approached by a farmer (Cosmo) who turns out to be the owner of the property. But there’s someone else around, too – the spirit of the murdered girl from the film’s opening… and she seems rather angry.

Back at the radio station, Ben and Laurie bring a psychic in to pep up their final show, and get more than they bargained for when the girl’s ghost begins to communicate over the airwaves… gradually leading the group down a path toward the killer’s identity – someone who may just be too close for comfort.

As is likely evident at this point, Dark Signal’s two narrative threads do collide over time, spending the majority of the film linked only by the dead girl’s voice and/or jump-scare visual appearances. Director Evers-Swindell does a nice job of balancing the two stories, and pulls a particularly impressive and unexpected little trick for his reveal – but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely on point.

The night-time countryside robbery feels needlessly meandering, relying on a less than convincing performance from Ignaczewska that isn’t helped at all by the decidedly weak character that she’s forced to portray. The ever-dependable James Cosmo brings some much-needed drama to the mix, as the only other antagonistic element at play is a random collection of cheap ghostly antics and stingers that are far overplayed at this point in the world of genre cinema.

Things fare better back at the radio station, with solid performances from our leads in that camp. David-Lloyd’s Ben is a likeable chap throughout, and Morris sparkles as Laurie, the downtrodden DJ who finds herself without a single remaining fuck to give owing to a lack of immediate job prospects once the night is through. The ghost’s involvement is more reserved here, too, with creepy EVP-esque communication being the key mechanism. It ratchets up the mystery nicely, as the girl’s cryptic clues begin to unravel the secrets at play.

So we’re dealing with a very uneven piece of work with Dark Signal — one which tells a solid serial killer story but fails to realise the unique bent that it’s going for with its injection of supernatural elements. Like an afterthought for much of the runtime, the spook action feels unrefined and illogical – a solid example being the ghost showing up back at Kate’s home to scream at her young son for no other reason than to introduce another lazy scare. Sure, it ties (very) loosely to the story’s unfolding, but could just as easily have been removed with no impact to Kate’s motivations.

All of this leads to an awkwardly-staged finale that lacks impact and leads to an amusingly abrupt end. Dark Signal is a bumpy ride – there’s enough to like given that it lacks no measure of enthusiasm, but janky performances and the lifeless robbery thread means it fails to consistently enthral or live up to its mash-up potential.

Our review DVD of Dark Signal did not contain any special features, so these have not been reviewed. All current information points to the retail disc being a bare bones release.

  • Film
User Rating 4 (11 votes)


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