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The Hilarious Way David Bruckner Once Used A Bad Review As Inspiration For A Sequel Villain

David Bruckner is now a name synonymous with modern horror films. After his first two solo feature directing credits for 2017's "The Ritual" and 2021's "The Night House" earned rave reviews, Bruckner made an even bigger splash directing the well-reviewed series reboot of "Hellraiser" for Hulu in 2022.

Prior to those films, Bruckner, along with fellow filmmakers Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, co-directed the 2007 shocker, "The Signal." While not a traditional anthology, the film actually almost plays a cinematic game of telephone where each filmmaker covers one act of the film's full story. The film takes place when a mysterious signal is broadcast over all cell phones, TVs, and radios that turns those exposed to it into murderous monsters. The film received mixed reviews, but it kickstarted all three filmmakers' careers. One critic, who didn't think very favorable things about the film, had a villain in the sequel named after him.

Bruckner addressed the complicated relationship between critics and filmmakers

In an interview with The AV Club, David Bruckner talked about naming a character Gill Toddchrist in an unmade sequel to 2007's "The Signal" after film critic Todd Gilchrist gave that film a bad review. In Gilchrist's review of the film on IGN, he summed up his thoughts by saying, "It's more than a little disappointing to see three dumb takes on a single story add up to less than one smart one." With Gilchrist conducting the interview with Bruckner at The AV Club, they addressed the complicated relationship between critics and filmmakers.

Filmmaker David Bruckner elaborated on the relationship, saying, "Since then, I have come to realize that everyone's going to have a different take on the stuff that you create, and you just have to roll with it, and actually, you learn to embrace the fact that not everybody's going to get it or experience it, or some people are going to see the seams in something depending what their experiences are."

David Bruckner named a villain in The Signal's sequel script after a critic who didn't like the first film

Film critic Todd Gilchirst first had struck up a friendly relationship with Jacob Gentry, one of the other filmmakers in "The Signal's" directing trio. Gentry brought the review up to Gilchrist at a festival and they laughed off the reviewer's negative criticism. In getting the chance to speak with David Bruckner about the situation, Bruckner shared how the critic inspired a villain for the second "The Signal" film saying, "We began to brainstorm a Signal sequel. And occasionally we would refer to Todd Gilchrist, like, how do we make Todd Gilchrist happy? And this mutated in our writer's room into a character known as Gill Toddchrist. It was a joke for us."

Bruckner continued, "Even though Gill started as a villain, when I say he was amazing, he did incredible things! Like, he became to us a good guy. So we weren't just sending up what you had written. We were, I think, working through our own experience of just putting something out there."

Since that negative review was for Bruckner's first film, he's gone on to fully understand the synergy between critics and filmmakers. He stated, "I mean, I'm somebody who reads reviews ... And that's a doorway that I have into a conversation about what it is, and you get into analyzing your feelings with experiences. Obviously, part of it is discussing the things that don't work for us."

The sequel to "The Signal" inevitably didn't happen, but Bruckner and company tried to turn their film into a TV series. The series also went unsold. The film, which Bruckner refers to as "Twitter incarnate," featured three stories about people reacting and essentially becoming rage zombies after a strange signal is broadcast everywhere across all media. Bruckner said, "I don't think the world knew what to do with The Signal, and it was a bizarre film."