Sundance 2014: Awesome Original Sci-Fi Creation 'The Signal' Thrills
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2014
Throughout the many years of the Sundance Film Festival, a handful of outstanding, original, indie science fiction films have premiered here - Cube, Primer, Donnie Darko and Sound of My Voice to name a few. One of the next new awesome sci-fi creations to make its mark at Sundance is called The Signal, not related to the anthology horror film of the same name which also played at this festival a few years ago. Directed by up-and-comer William Eubank (follow him @superswift), The Signal is a thrilling, keep-you-guessing sci-fi action thriller that is more more gripping and entertaining that I could have ever imagined.
It's very hard to talk about The Signal without giving away a few of its key plot twists, which are best kept a secret if you want the best experience with this film. In the opening scenes we're introduced to three friends, played by Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke & Beau Knapp, who seem to be involved in a hack-off with a person known as "Nomad", who they first encountered when he hacked MIT servers. They're planning to defeat him at Defcon, but they've hacked him in reverse and discovered that they can confront him in person. Once they arrive at a decrepit shack in the middle of nowhere Nevada in the middle of the night, shit gets crazy. From there on out, the film effectively keeps us guessing what really happened / is happening.
Where it goes from there is not only compelling to watch in a "what the fuck is going on?!" kind of way, but it's exciting, and eventually it becomes awesome. After that first encounter at the shack, we meet Laurence Fishburne, who gives a very Morpheus-like performances in a key role that is best left hidden in the film. It might be too much to say that the film has a Cube-like idea behind it, but it's also inspired by the kinds of mysteries found in "Twilight Zone" and hinges on the thrilling storytelling that worked so well with "Lost". If you're a big fan of any of those references, then this film will certainly keep you intrigued and entertained.
Where The Signal exceeds any expectations is in its execution and visual prowess, showcasing an incredible amount of talent in storytelling. Where it encounters some troubles is in the way it introduces almost way too many ideas, hints, teases and little threads of concepts that never actually lead to anything in the end. It's almost as if they're planning to continue this into a sequel, or even an entire series of films, but we have to wait until the next one to tie up some loose ends. Despite these minor inconsistencies and convoluted plot elements, it's still an awesome sci-fi film that delivers in terms of thrilling, creepy, rousing entertainment. I'll be watching William Eubank's career closely from now on, and I'm already anxiously awaiting the sequel.
Alex's Sundance 2014 Rating: 8 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing