Dark Signal (2016)

The mountainous, remote wooded expanse of Snowdonia, North Wales, is terrorized by the Wedlock Killer. The savage and brutal attacks of five women share a common trait: their wedding ring fingers were removed by a bolt cutter. Luckily, Sarah, the next victim, was watching an expositional TV news report so we can learn this useful, bloody tidbit—and save it for later to season this story where The Shining meets The Ring—with a dash of Ju-On and a soupçon of 2005’s White Noise starring Michael Keaton.

Yep. There’s a ghost in the machine and a pseudo-giallo killer on the loose.

After the first kill we’re introduced to the jaded, motorcycle riding and chain-smoking (ah “character development”) Laurie Wolf (Siwan Morris of Britain’s long-running Eastenders). She’s a DJ who can’t find a new gig in the wake of hosting her final show on the soon-to-be-closed down Radio JAB, a local station victimized by corporate network automation. Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd of Syfy Network’s Warehouse 13 and the BBC’s Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood), Laurie’s producer, has on an online affair with Kate (excellent Polish actress Joanna Ignaczewska of 2014’s The Scopia Effect), a single mother dealing with a spiteful ex-husband. Kate’s financial desperation thrusts her into agreeing to be the getaway driver for a robbery planned by her dubious boyfriend Nick, who’s out to rob a “business associate”—in those very same remote woods.

Uh-oh.

When the car’s electrical system fails and the radio turns to static, Kate meets a bloody, long-haired ghost that haunts the woods: Kate’s about to be Yūrei’d.

Now that’s a radio studio! On the air with Laurie Wolf on Radio JAB, the voice of Snowdonia, Wales.

Meanwhile, back on the final broadcast of the “Howl at the Moon” radio programme on Radio JAB, the divine Ms. Wolf and Ben decide that, as a final act of defiance against the station’s owners, they’ll break format and interview Carla Zaza, a questionable psychic (Cinzia Monreale of Dario Argento’s The Stendhal Syndrome and Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond) and hold an on-air séance.

A questionable psychic and a skeptical, bitchy chain-smoker who thinks it’s all fake?

Uh-oh.

Cue Sadako’s onryō-creeks n’ crackles and turn up the radio static: the bogus psychic made contact with the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) spirit of Sarah, the last victim of the Wedlock Killer, who’s now using the airwaves of Radio JAB to extract her revenge.

Way to push that J-Horror angle, Mr. Distributor.

When watching this Wales-shot horror, as with any British, Scottish, or Australian-shot film, Dark Signal can be a hard watch due to the thick Welsh accents. Fortunately, TubiTV’s upload features a closed captioning feature so you can get the full enjoyment from this nicely-shot and acted debut feature from writer/director Edward Evers-Swindell.

Produced by Neil Marshall, the director behind Dark Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005), Doomsday (2008), and Hellboy (2019), Marshall and Swindell will be back in theatres in 2020 with the Swindell-penned and Marshall-directed The Reckoning.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

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