Warning Sign Hal Barwood

Sometimes all it takes is a lack of hope to save a film from the depths of becoming another run of the mill dud. On the DVD case, Warning Sign appears to have unlimited potential for satisfying the gore-lust that burns within all horror fanatics, but unfortunately, writer/director Barwood opted to take the high road, against better judgment. Taking place in a genetic engineering complex out in the middle of rural Utah, the film reaches almost immediately for the panic button when a mysterious toxin is set free in the building. Though it’s quarantined at once, those inside are infected with a virus that causes a psychotic rage, with the exception of security guard Joanie (Kathleen Quinlan). With the help of her sheriff husband Cal (Sam Waterston) and scientist Dr. Fairchild (Jeffrey DeMunn), Joanie must fight for her life against raving lunatics until she is saved. Though in a way it predates 28 Days Later for the raging "zombie” plot, Warning Signs is all bark and no bite. There is a threat, yes, but compared to the crazies spewing blood in the consequential 2002 Brit flick, this is like a tough day in kindergarten with some roughhousing children. The ending, which opts for simple closure with no possible threat remaining, is a buzz killer and to be honest, there is little suspense or heart-pounding action once you get past the first 20 minutes. Given a rewrite by someone as inventive back then as Peter Jackson or even Dario Argento, this film could have taken the grisly turn it deserved. As it is, it’s as gratifying as a TV movie of the week starring murderous lightning storms. (Anchor Bay)