Directed by: William Eubank
Written by: Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank & David Frigerio
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Beau Knapp, Olivia Cooke & Laurence Fishburne
Synopsis: “Three college students on a road trip across the Southwest experience a detour: the tracking of a computer genius who has already hacked into MIT and exposed security faults. The trio find themselves drawn to an eerily isolated area. Suddenly everything goes dark. When one of the students, Nic (Brenton Thwaites of The Giver and Maleficent), regains consciousness, he is in a waking nightmare…” Courtesy of Focus Features
With very little blatant marketing, and having only recently seen the trailer, I didn’t really know what to expect going into see this film.What little preconceived notion I did have bore zero resemblance to the movie I just saw. It’s as if the people who made the trailer didn’t actually see the movie, or were possibly making a trailer for a new take on the 2007 horror flick The Signal, from a science fiction perspective. Either way the promo and the movie don’t quite add up. That being said, The Signal is full of intrigue, suspense, and is an overall strong dark sci-fi movie.
The story circles around 3 friends, our main focus Nic (Brenton Thwaites), his best friend Jonah (Beau Knapp), and Nic’s girlfriend Haley (played by the doe eyed Olivia Cooke, best known for her role on Bates Motel). The boys are driving cross country, taking Haley to Cal-Tech from MIT, where she’s decided to transfer. On the way they are taunted by a hacker known only as ‘Nomad’, and decide to confront him by following his signal.
They are completely unprepared for what they find, and even less so when they wake in an underground medical facility, held against their will by Laurence Fishburne’s character Damon, under tight quarantine. Now if you think I’ve dropped spoilers, fear not. I haven’t told you anything more than what you learn from watching the trailer. There are plenty of mind bending twists yet to be discovered. In fact, the Director was meticulously careful in making sure that you are as confused as the characters themselves, and discover the truths as they discover them.
The movie blends themes and references many other films of all genre types, from The Thirteenth Floor to The Blair Witch Project, yet manages to be it’s own entity. I appreciated most of the Director’s choices (save for the odd lens flair and a few seconds of misplaced shaky cam), and though I don’t agree with murmurs from fellow audience members citing loose ends, I definitely have a few questions left unanswered that I would love to ask. Overall I liked the flick. I will say that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will likely be a fan of The Signal too.