The Signal – A Sci-Fi Thriller Unlike Most

If you’re a sci-fi fan and are tired of the same old thing then, this film might be just the thing for you. A trio of MIT students take off on a road trip and are drawn to an isolated area by a computer genius. When everything suddenly goes dark, Nic regains consciousness – only to find himself in a waking nightmare. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D., age 16 comments, “This is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen but, I love it.” See her full review below.

The Signal
Reviewed by Raven Devanney, age 16

Best friends Nic and Jonah embark on a road trip with their close friend Haley to help her move to California. Along the way, Nic and Jonah continue corresponding with a computer genius known to them as Nomad. Nomad previously hacked into their college’s computer system and, being computer programmers themselves, they aim to one-up this mysterious hacker. They trace the IP address from the emails they’ve been receiving and intend to confront who ever is “messing” with them. But when they are lead to a small abandoned home in a desolate area, things take an unexpected turn. When Nic awakes from unconsciousness he finds himself in a government testing facility and what he learns is more shocking than anything he could have ever imagined.

This is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen but, I love it. The cinematography is absolutely incredible. Most of the film is centered more around the visuals than the  dialogue. This film shows a lot of flashbacks and memories throughout that are shown mostly in slow motion and the film work is very artistic and thoughtful. The soundtrack is incredible. Since there is little to no dialogue, at times the music often carries the emotion and intent of the film. The music contains quite a bit of ambient noise and definitely has a spooky sci-fi feel to it. Not only is the music a vital part to the film, but there are almost always strange, off-setting, whirring sounds that play in the background. It gives the feel that something is about to happen which is a nice way to add some edge and unease.

The reason I say this is one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen is because I can honestly say there were very few moments when I completely knew what was going on in the film. This movie does not explain what is happening throughout the whole thing, it gives no real background info on the characters, what happened to them, where they really are, nothing. Throughout the movie I kept thinking that there would be a big reveal and everyone would say “Oh, I get it now!.” But, that came in a very surprising way. There is a big reveal at the very last minute of the film but honestly, it left my friend and I with more questions than before. Although I spent the 95 minutes of this film terribly confused, it isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s brilliant. Director William Eubank only gives the audience as much information as the character Nic has in this film. And, after suffering major head trauma and being told very little, Nic has barely any information to work off of or any idea what is going on. So in a sense, the audience is being forced to feel what Nic is feeling complete with his frustration and confusion. It’s a very immersive movie experience and, like I said, it’s brilliant.

Unfortunately I can’t share my favorite scene, or any scene really without taking away from actually watching the film. But I can talk about the incredible cast and characters. There are very few speaking roles in the film, only six actually. But these six characters are fantastic. Of course there is the main trio, Nic, played by Brenton Thwaites, Haley, played by Olivia Cooke and Jonah, played by Beau Knapp.

Nic is an interesting character and also the main one. I’m assuming he suffers from MS or some degenerative disease because in the beginning of the film he is walking around with forearm crutches and mentions that he’ll need a wheelchair but, in flashbacks you see him running and walking around freely. However this is never explained. He is such a great character because as I mentioned before, he is confused about what is going on throughout 95% of the film. Brenton does a phenomenal job portraying this sense of panic and frustration at being so lost. His actions and reactions seem so authentic to his character and he has a wonderful way that invites the audience to join him in his ups and downs. Jonah is also a really great character. He is very quirky but also crazy intelligent and, although he is not in a large portion of the film, he is able to shed some light on what is potentially happening to them. I love Haley because Olivia Cooke plays my favorite character on “Bates Motel” so it is really cool to see her playing a more mature role. Haley is what drives Nic to do pretty much everything he does in the film because the two of them are in a relationship. It is very nice to have such sentimental and caring interactions throughout this film since everything else is quite intense. I can’t discuss the rest of the characters without, again, taking away from your movie watching experience.

I wholeheartedly recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 because of the difficulties around following the plot, some very intense and violent situations and also, there is a lack of dialogue. You’re just viewing images from the past and present which may be confusing and not very entertaining for a younger audience. At first, I was very hesitant about this film because it starts off a bit slow and is, as you know, confusing as heck, but after watching it all the way through I give The Signal 5 out of 5 stars and am eager to see it again. If you’re into sci-fi film, aliens or just want a mind-bending experience, then check out The Signal in theaters now.