Review: The Signal – A strong sci-fi frequency
This year of excellent avant-garde sci-fi films (see Under the Skin and Enemy) continues with The Signal, an amazing, ambitious and ambiguous movie that is certainly of its own frequency and constantly keeps you guessing and sitting on the edge of your seat.
The less you know about this movie the better, so I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. The best way I can think of to describe the film, which is no easy task, is that it is like a crazy mix of The Twilight Zone and the Coast to Coast AM radio show (on any given night.)
MIT college students and hackers, Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp), are helping Nic’s girlfriend, Haley (Olivia Cooke), move to California; but on the cross-country road trip they begin having their laptops infiltrated by a mysterious hacker known only as “Nomad.”
The guys have heard of the legendary Nomad from his previous attempts to breach the MIT computer systems, but when he starts sending the college kids live video feed of themselves, they realize he is close-by and decide to track him down, while being both fascinated and “agitated” by his computer prowess.
Cool science-fiction craziness ensues and you’ll just have to take my word for it and see it unfold for yourself. The Signal is truly in the tradition of Stanley Kubrick and M. Night Shyamalan’s early work; where nothing is as it seams and you don’t really know where you are going until you get there. Just know that it is a fascinating journey.
The Signal is directed and co-written (together with Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio) by William Eubank – and this is a young filmmaker (a former cinematographer) who is destined for greatness. In The Signal he has elicited incredible performances from his cast (who are all excellent), written an intriguing and original story, and has created cinematic miracles with the film’s small budget.
Laurence Fishburne is fascinating as the film’s Dr. Damon, whose slow-paced delivery is a crazy cross between The Matrix’s Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Keys (Peter Coyote from E.T.) In fact, this is probably my all-time favorite Fishburne part and performance.
Regardless of what your favorite film genre is, this movie has something for everyone. I can’t tell you what that something is, but it’s special, and I strongly recommend you seek The Signal out yourself. Grade: 8.5/10
Read our interview with “The Signal” director, Will Eubank!
Photos © 2014 Focus Features