The Signal

A 2014 low-budthe_signal_posterget sci-fi film where three teenagers detour on their way across the country to follow the path of a hacker named “Nomad” who appears to have been trolling them for quite some time.  Had they stayed on their path, Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) would have dropped Nic’s girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cook) off in California and she and Nic may or may not have broken up.  But as they head toward California, they figure out where Nomad’s been sending his/her messages from and decide that since it’s only three hours out of their way that they’re going to try and find him/her.

They’re led to a dilapidated house in the middle of the Nevada desert and while the guys go inside and look around, finding nothing, they hear Haley screaming.  When they get outside, all sorts of weird stuff–including what looks like Haley’s body flying upward–happens and everything goes black.  Next thing we know, Nic wakes up in a secret government facility where he has little memory of what happened and is subjected to constant question by Dr. Damon (Laurence Fishburne).

I don’t want to get too much beyond this because it would give away too much of the plot, but Nic slowly discovers where he is and where his friends are and they attempt an escape, which leads to an ending that’s about 50% fulfilling.  The movie leads you on pretty well with its “they’re keeping us all in the dark and I want to see where they’re going” way of storytelling and I give credit to the filmmakers who start with a very low-budget movie look, go into a found footage style when they get to the house in Nevada and then give us a very moody sci-fi piece among other stylistic changes as the film goes on and it pretty much works.

The acting is solid–Laurence Fishburne is a creepy version of Morpheus from The Matrix–and there’s some good tension throughout the course of the movie as the conflict builds.  But it doesn’t exactly stick the landing, so I’d say check this out if really only like this sort of movie and not if you’re a casual viewer.

Buy, Rent, or Skip?

Rent.

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