HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
Bullet for the President, A
Constant Husband, The
Anbessa
Man in Grey, The
Harakiri
Way to the Stars, The
Man Who Skied Down Everest, The
Bottoms Up!
   
 
Newest Articles
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
   
 
  Signal, The Is anybody out there?
Year: 2014
Director: William Eubank
Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, Laurence Fishburne, Jeffrey Grover, Roy Kenny, Timothy Holmes, Ricardo Campos, Drew Sykes, Lin Shaye, Robert Longstreet
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Three friends have their road trip cut short when they receive mysterious communications from a hacker known as NOMAD who claims to be responsible for their near-expulsion from M.I.T. Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Hayley (Olivia Cooke) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) track the hacker's signal to an old, abandoned house near the Arizona desert. Once there however, the trio are unable to find much of anything before Hayley suddenly disappears and a bizarre, terrifying anomaly causes them all to black out. Nic awakens in an underground research facility tended by scientists in decontamination suits led by the calm, rational, frankly sinister Dr. Damon Riles (Laurence Fishburne). Revealing nothing about the situation, nor the whereabouts of Hayley and Jonah, Dr. Riles simply asks Nic a series of questions including whether he can recall the first time he encountered the signal?

Not to be confused with the 2007 horror film of the same name, The Signal is the kind of smart, atmospheric, thought-provoking, character-driven science fiction drama fans routinely complain faded after the Seventies. Which makes it all the more perplexing and frustrating critics crying out for intelligent SF failed to recognize the film as such and instead derided it with that tiresome, far too cavalierly dispensed critical catch-all, 'mumble core.' In his second film following the similarly SF-themed Love (2011), cinematographer turned director William Eubank deftly interweaves ideas reminiscent of an episode of vintage TV show The Outer Limits with a compelling human drama. After an ambiguous yet earthbound and accessible first third, Eubank slowly feeds viewers the details, slowly mounting suspense with stark yet striking images of the wide open road and vast skies hinting at a mysterious world beyond this mortal coil.

Early on the filmmakers' strategy of ingenuity coupled with occasional, over-familiar use of shaky-cam 'realism' evoke The Blair Witch Project (1999). At one point, while exploring the abandoned house, Jonah even crouches in the corner as a prank in a jokey nod to the found-footage classic. Of course a genre film can only remain evasive and ambiguous for so long before an audience grows annoyed. As filmmakers as diverse as M. Night Shyamalan and Damon Lindelhof discovered to their cost, holding back answers can just as easily be interpreted as lacking any. Fortunately, once Nic awakens in the research facility to face Riles' implacable, reasonable yet ever more unsettling questions the film shifts gears. Further anomalies wreak havoc on the facility. Nic thinks he can hear Jonah's voice coming through an air vent. Then he makes a horrific discovery. Eubank's skillful framing and slow shift from ice blue to deep red coloured gels slowly increases a sense of disorientation in time and space, complemented by subtly paranoid performances from the solid young actors even though Fishburne is still doing his best Morpheus.

Co-written by David Frigerio, who penned and produced the interesting slasher Wreckage (2010) on which Eubank served as cinematographer, the cerebral script draws smart characters. Yet rather than positioning itself as smarter than the viewer, the plot sensibly invites them to piece the mystery together with Nic, drawing us into an escalating nightmare that according to Eubank and Frigerio explores the conflict between logic and emotion. The plot progresses with allusions to Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and THX-1138 (1971) while a handful of later shocks even evoke George A. Romero's original version of The Crazies (1973). While some claim The Signal draws its philosophy from Plato's Allegory of the Cave, others maintain the finale is more along the lines of a modern interpretation of The Wizard of Oz (1939). In fact a few Marvel Comics-like twists edge this close to territory Josh Trank and Max Landis already staked out with Chronicle (2012). Admittedly the finale falls on that corny reverse-word trick but then so did Stanley Kubrick in The Shining (1980). If the final twist is a leap too far into familiar Matrix terrain, as signified by Fishburne's presence, SF fans may still value the benefits of posing interesting questions over delivering concrete answers.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1137 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: