Today I watched William Eubank’s The Signal (2014)
Three young friends and MIT students are on a road trip to California, along the way following the tracks of a strange hacker named NOMAD. While rolling through Nevada, they track NOMAD’s IP address to what seems to be an abandoned shack, they explore and something strange happens. Our main character of the three, Nic played by Brenton Thwaites, awakens in a strange hospital like environment and is introduced to Dr. Wallace Damon, portrayed with a cold maleficence by Lawrence Fishbourne. Damon explains that Nic encountered an alien life form and that he is under quarantine while they study him, but the actions of the staff in this facility are strange and the questions asked don’t seem to add up. From here the film slowly but steadily ramps up the tension as it slowly reveals it’s horrific sci-fi premise.
This is definitely a film that caters in plot twists and that Twilight Zone style of strangeness. I think it handled it all very well and i found myself surprised by directions the plot takes multiple times. We the audience are subjected to the confusion and dread of being in a situation beyond our comprehension not just by this unpredictability but also the striking atmosphere and excellent performances from Thwaites and Fishbourne respectively. Wallace Damon holds all the secrets behind a disturbingly calm veneer and we are instead shown the setting through the unknowing eyes of Nic, who is understandably quite distraught.
Much like yesterday’s film, this one caters in strong, if somewhat self indulgent, visuals and style. There is a very sterile look to much of the film and it is contrasted with more emotive musical montages which help express Nic’s internal journey in a unique way. These visuals tell the story more so than the rather scant dialogue, which is perhaps all for the better. The nature of the plot would not benefit from any additional exposition, the film is interesting because it leaves so much unknown and up to speculation.
This film is a cunningly executed and wickedly subtle and subversive posthuman nightmare. It handles some rather crazy subject matter in a way that a normal person can relate to and maybe not understand but can certainly follow. The plot raises more questions about the setting than it answers in a way that I found very inspiring, my mind is abuzz with possible ramifications of the ending and probably will be for some time more, the sign of a truly great mystery. This is a film for people who dig the mysteries of The Twilight Zone and other works of speculative absurdity delivered with a straight face. 5/5