The Signal (2014)

R  U Agitated?
When it comes to science fiction films you tend to get one or two of them a year that tend to be really good or you get a wave of them in a single year and your left with the same question you ask after you saw each one. Why was this movie ever made? This year alone there has been a wave of sci-fi movies and though some do border on the family atmosphere of the genre we've gotten a mix of ones that are down right meant for our page and site. Now this film wasn't handed to me or given to me. No this one I had to go out on my own to find and view it for our site. Now this movie is not to be confused with a similarly named movie called "The Signal" which came out in 2007 and doesn't have the same storyline or concept as this film. In fact that film is a horror film and is a mesh of films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Re-Aimator, Shivers and Shaun of the Dead.

This film is directed William Eubank whose credits some of which are uncredited (Collateral and Superman Returns) are fairly impressive for a director whose only first film was a science fiction drama. This film is an exploration between the confliction between logic and emotion. Meaning the films plays on what would we do in the scenario if this was us and we were left to pick between what was logical or what is emotionally right. More along the lines of a black or white decisions made with yes or no answers.

Story is three MIT students are on a road trip to take Haley (Olivia Cooke) to California. This trip has caused stress in the relationship between Haley and her boyfriend Jonah as well as feelings that Nick is distancing himself from Haley cause he doesn't want his affliction (muscular dystrophy) that's affected his legs to hold her back. Its during this road trip that Nick and his friend Jonah (Beau Knapp) have discovered that a hacker named NOMAD who nearly cost them their places in MIT is back and is tormenting them with emails. Their able to track the source where NOMAD is coming from in an abandoned house but something else was at work here as both guys black out before watching Haley being sucked up into the air by an unseen force.

Now after some time Nick wakes up with a series of numbers tattooed on his arm and is apparently in a sterile underground research facility. He is questioned by Dr. William Damon (Laurence Fishburne) who explains to Nick that he had encountered an EBE: Extra-terrestrial biological entity. Nick's disbelief causes him to not believe what he was told really happened but he manages to find his friend Jonah who tells Nick that his body feels weird as well as Nick proclaiming that his legs are now numb to him. After awhile Damon questions Nick again but Nick begins to question where Haley is, she's in a coma during this whole time with Nick being questioned. Jonah escapes from the place and leaves behind scorch marks and this causes Nick to try an escape with Haley but his attempt is stopped and its revealed that his legs have been amputated and replaced with alien technology. Nick then uses these new legs to escape with Haley only to discover they are in the middle of nowhere.
Now after the two lovebirds steal a semi-truck and try to find a way off the canyon that the facility is sat on. They come across Jonah whose disguised in a hazmat suit. He reveals to them that his limbs were replaced with alien tech as well. Nick then discovers that Haley has alien tech attached to her spine. They argue that they may be in Area 51 and are being tested by something. They make their way to a checkpoint where Jonah makes an attempt to hack the checkpoints computer system but he is discovered and is shot but manages to survive the shot and uses his last bit of energy with the use of his alien limbs to subdue the soldiers there. Nick and Haley manages to escape but its short lived as they run into Damon who with his soldiers use an rpg to blow the truck's tires out and stops them. Damon orders that Haley be taken away via chopper and Damon confronts Nick and tells him he can't make it to her due to his legs and the distance. A loud horn sound comes from the sky Nick pieces it together that Damon is actually NOMAD and becomes agitated and emotionally compromised after Damon tells him hes the perfect blend of human and alien tech. It is then that Nick's limbs show their true power and he takes off. It is after this that the truth is finally revealed to Nick and it becomes apparent that Nick was really being tested the whole time.

My feelings toward this movie is that this actually came off mixed. I really couldn't find myself getting behind the characters cause well there is little to no story behind them. The film does show does show the blurred line between logic and emotion. I mean it looks like it can come off as a knock off of District 9 meets The X-Files or a Twilight Zone episode. Its good and bad all at the same time but you have to go into this movie not with high hopes cause its a low-budget film that was showcased at the Sundance Film Festival. So its not an award winning film like some of these low-budget films tend have plastered on them and its not one that's been talked about a lot online. So you may want to just suspend your hopes for the time your gonna invest in this movie like I did and though I did have some mix feelings about this afterwards. I came to the conclusion that it is a film that is good for a one time view, not something your gonna want to watch over and over again. So if your gonna watch this go into it with no hopes of it being like Looper or Edge of Tomorrow big budget sci-fi films.

Reviewed by Bucky S.

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