The Signal is smart sci-fi written by brothers Carlyle and William Eubank, alongside David Frigerio, with William also directing.
A trio of youngsters star: Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent, Oculus), Beau Knapp (Super 8, Run All Night) and one of my current favourite actresses Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel, Ouija). They are ably assisted by legendary exposition and gravitas machine Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal, The Matrix)
Thwaites, Knapp and Cooke are Nic, Jonah and Hailey ? super smart computer science students on a road trip. Along the way a mysterious hacker called Nomad begins messing with them. Nomad creepily hacks into the webcam on their laptop and emails them images of themselves that he has managed to pull from traffic surveillance.
The gang hack Nomad right back and track him to an isolated farmhouse that they should clearly not go inside at night time. Entering Nomad?s house at night the boys find nothing but lose something ? Hailey is heart-stoppingly abducted in one of the film?s finest moments.
The boys later awake in a subterranean facility where Dr. Damon (Fishburne) runs experiments on them. The youngsters make a bold and very clever escape attempt, but are entirely unprepared for the outside world they now find themselves in, or the changes they have undergone while in the facility.
The Signal is nearly Chronicle meets District 9. There?s a lot of neat mind blowing and fucking, but ultimately not enough answers are given for the film to feel entirely rewarding or satisfying.
As you would expect from a director, who has previously been a cinematographer, the film looks lovely. Even mundane things are shot to be given a little otherworldliness via lens flares and subtle plays of light, a clever nod to what?s to come.
Character weighting is an issue, with poor Cooke and Knapp?s intriguing characters Hailey and Jonah totally back-seated for the second act and the majority of the third. Fishburne and Thwaites fill the void, and while Thwaites?s escape plotting is excellent, Fishburne is coasting with a bland and annoying character only granted something interested about him in the far out finale.
The disc itself is pretty good. The DVD encode is totally acceptable with no artefacts visible and a decent 5.1 audio track. The extras include a lively and interesting commentary provided by the writers and director, an outtake, a Making Of featurette, and deleted scenes.
The ten minutes of deleted scenes were very clearly cut for pacing as they are very dull. The outtake is a seventeen second blooper, which when listed like this feels like a bit of a piss take, and would have been better suited to having been hidden as an easter egg. The Making off is disappointing also. I guess technically it?s a Making Of, but all it really is is nine minutes of B-roll footage stuck together in chronological order.
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