The latest in a string of low budget indie sci-fi films, The Signal follows the story of three friends as their attempt to track down a rival hacker leads them into far more trouble than they’d bargained for. Our protagonist Nic Eastman (Brenton Thwaites) awakes to find himself and his friends trapped in a mysterious facility after coming into contact with an EBE (extraterrestrial biological entity). From there things only get stranger.
The first half hour is captivating, intensely unsettling and sinister. There’s a good balance between flashbacks to carefree youth and the stark white of the facility, and Laurence Fishburne is sufficiently creepy as Dr Damon, but beyond this things get a little confused.
It’s certainly a unique narrative, with shades of everything from indie road movies to The Blair Witch Project running through it but, ultimately, The Signal seems more concerned with special effects and visuals than with telling a coherent story. The film’s second half is a jumble of poorly explained plot points and, though it’s not particularly hard to follow, it becomes increasingly surreal – and not in a good way. The characters themselves are fairly bland, none particularly stand out. Nic’s muscular dystrophy makes for an interesting change to the standard sci-fi lead but he’s so otherwise generic that it makes little impact.
That being said, the cinematography and special effects are wonderful, the attention to background detail is particularly exquisite and even with all the narrative flaws the film is worth a watch. Had it focused a little more on finding a cohesive plot or making the characters memorable than on flashy shots, The Signal could have truly been something special.
The Signal is released nationwide on 27th March 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Signal here: