‘The Signal’ is a 2014 science fiction film that stars Laurence Fishburne and Brenton Thwaites. It premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically in June of last year.
Three students, Jonah, Nic and Haley are on a road trip. During an overnight stay at a motel they receive messages and taunts from a hacker named NOMAD. This same hacker nearly got them expelled from MIT, so being close to his location they decide to investigate. However, things go awry once they reach NOMAD’s remote Nevada site.
The creators of this film seemed more interested in narrative twists and turns than producing a solid science fiction movie. Talk about a bad mix of genres. One minute ‘The Signal’ is a techno thriller the next it’s a hand held camera horror flick. Splicing genres in no way helps writer-director William Eubank and his co-writers, Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio succeed in telling a good story. The viewer may be curious to know how the story unfolds but this patient wait is fraught with annoyance and frustration at the silly, paper thin story and clumsy character development. A positive in the film of course is Lawrence Fishburne’s portrayal as researcher Dr. Damon. Fishburne is refreshing as he weaves effortlessly between good and bad. Also, despite having a very modest budget, Eubank and his team can be applauded for their action set pieces and special effects.
No doubt ‘The Signal’ will find an audience in the sci-fi community but its weaknesses far outweigh any craftiness that may be found in its story or production value.