Studio: Inception Media Group
Director: Brandon Cano-Errecart
Writer: Nathan Dean Snyder
Producer: Jorge A. Cano Jr.
Stars: Nathan Dean Snyder, Devan Liljedahl, Miki Matteson, Matthew Black, Brandon Cano-Errecart
An investigation into mysterious deaths at a condemned Los Angeles apartment building uncovers a satanic conspiracy.
NOTE: "The Sigil" was retitled "A Haunting on Gabriel Street" for U.S. home video distribution.
“The Sigil” has half of an idea for a story and half of an idea about how to film it. Thinking that the two together might add up to one complete movie, “The Sigil” is a collection of half-cocked misfires both in the script and on the screen. Everyone involved in the film appears to have been in his/her early 20’s, so I will take inexperience into account and put this as gently as possible for all involved. The movie is a highlight reel for what happens when a cast and crew is not ready for primetime, and turns on the camera without having thought everything through.
When 20-year-old Logan Lewis dies tragically along with 42 others in a Los Angeles building, authorities claim that everyone had been exposed to dangerous levels of undetected uranium radiation. The coroner refuses to release the body while family and friends grow suspicious about the story. Putting matters into their own hands, Logan’s sister Devan, her boyfriend Nate, and cameraman Brandon take a road trip to the City of Angels for a little amateur sleuthing. After befriending a pair of mysterious roommates in the neighboring apartment building, the trio eventually discovers that the building in question was actually home to sinister satanic activities.
Many “found footage” films have done far more with far less of a premise than that. As a diving board, the initial idea for “The Sigil” offers a good enough jumping off point for an urban demonic thriller. Except that this movie has no idea about which way to run once the starting gun has fired.
Unable to commit to one format or the other, “The Sigil” mashes a traditional film with smatterings of “found footage.” We can be sure it is “found footage” because the tapes are shown with a battery indicator in the upper left corner and the flashing letters “REC” in the upper right. Why anyone would purchase a camera that imprints these graphics on the actual recording is a bigger mystery than what really happened in the derelict building.
Mixing the two formats provides zero value, and only adds to the film’s overall sloppiness. The sense is that the filmmakers did not know how to translate certain scenes into “found footage,” and then assumed that a shaky first person camera would artificially create scares, as the movie itself has none.
Excluding the credits, “The Sigil” tops out at just five minutes over an hour, which is surprising because it feels much longer. Documenting the plentiful inconsistencies and silly plot points would take longer than actually watching the movie. Suffice it to say, some of the lowlights include a forcibly late introduction of purpose to character relationships and a climax that is not an ending so much as a stoppage. When the cast discovers one character’s real name by seeing it professionally printed on a framed photograph (who has a photo like this in reality?), it is painfully obvious that the story grabs any available option for moving forward without a sincere attempt at working elements thoughtfully into the film.
The dialogue is as basic as possible, yet the actors are unable to deliver simple lines without sounding like Ben Stein reading a phonebook. One actress may as well be yawning when she discovers that her beloved brother is actually a murderous demon worshipper. To be out of their depth in such straightforward roles showcases the amateur effort on both sides of the camera.
Even with a thankfully brief runtime, “The Sigil” is still unsure of what to throw up on the screen. A montage of random scenery from downtown L.A. and Hollywood occupies several of the opening minutes. Sound bites from random passersby fill a middle section. At no time does the movie feel like a cohesive narrative with sensibly plotted drama or action.
Each underdeveloped idea in the film culminates in a production with the amateur look of an experimental student film, and none of the fearless creativity. “The Sigil” is a hastily stitched together failure sewn by a crew that is greener than Kermit the Frog. The distributor may have been fooled into releasing this as a professional product, but pulling the wool over a discerning audience’s eyes is a completely different trick.
Review Score: 15