The Signal (Focus Features)
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence and language.
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Lin Shaye, Sarah Clarke, Beau Knapp, Robert Longstreet.
Written by Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank and David Frigerio.
Directed by William Eubank.
Good science fiction horror is hard to find these days. Alright, already…the aliens are coming to get us, and they are not nice. It’s that kind of thinking that results in films like The Signal, the story of a few 20somethings who encounter an entity not of this world.
Brenton Thwaites stars as Nic, a young man and computer science student crippled by some unknown disease that requires him to use crutches. During a cross-country trip with his girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke) and hacker-friend Jonah (Beau Knapp), the gang decides to seek out a rival hacker named “Nomad” that has apparently been punking them. After they arrive at a remote Nevada shack, they are attacked and transported to some sort of underground government facility where a mysterious official named Damon (Lawrence Fishburne) interrogates Nic and keeps him separate from his pals. Fed up with his imprisonment, Nic finds Haley and breaks out of the facility, only to discover that the world isn’t what he thought it was.
Oh, and there’s a “surprise” (sarcasm intended) ending.
The sarcasm comes from the fact that The Signal doesn’t do anything to hide its big “gotcha.” You can tell early on there’s more going on than meets the eye, right down to Fishburne’s “What if I told you…” cinematic meme of playing the enigmatic cool guy with something up his sleeve.
Everything else in The Signal is something you’ve seen in other movies, right down to the gross-out shock of discovering your body has been tampered with and the things that go bump in the night. There’s even one of those grainy “found footage” scenes, complete with frozen images of what could be monsters lurking in the dark.
So, The Signal is not worth much of a scare or reflection – but ends up being just another creepy attempt at sci-fi horror that fails to deliver.