With The Signal, Director Will Eubank takes a hint from the construction of the Matrix film series and borrows flavors collected out of a variety of science fiction movies that came before. From the Blair Witch-style video of the haunted house scene juxtaposed against the THX1138-inspired unbalanced and off-setting stark white sterility following that incident, the moods change swiftly and play with the viewer’s senses. When Dr. Damon (Laurence Fishburne) asks “are you agitated?” he could be talking to the audience in the theater instead of or rather than just the key player in this movie, known simply as Nic (Brenton Thwaites – Prince Philip in Maleficent, out in the theaters this month as well.)
Nic, Neo, you get the picture.
In fact, looking at the three protagonists one gets that vibe of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus from The Matrix going down the rabbit hole as Nic, Jonah and Haley do here (the aforementioned Thwaites along with Beau Knapp and Olivia Cooke) and then they find that road to nowhere directly from Josef Rusnak’s 1999 epic The Thirteenth Floor (starring Craig Bierko and Vincent D’Onofrio, both to end up Law & Order spinoffs.) The Thirteenth Floor (released May 28, 1999) came out almost simultaneously with The Matrix (March 31,1999,) and both were, thematically, along the same lines. See the posters below, The Thirteenth Floor admonishing the viewer to “Question reality.” So does The Signal. The three packaged together would make a nice DVD set and/or a Friday night midnight into early morning screening.
The Signal Movie Trailer:
Director Eubank’s love of David Lynch also drops in while that actual refugee from the Wachowski’s Matrix, Laurence Fishburne in space suit, does his best NSA spying routine, trying to glean information as well as putting things in the heads of those he is interrogating, those three curious members of the adventure team that chose to go on that journey. And a note of interest, during my interview with Will Eubank I asked if he’s related to Bob Eubanks of The Newlywed Game. He said no, but that – strangely – he lived near that Eubanks and when he moved Bob Eubanks had moved to the same neighborhood again! Los Angeles being smaller than people think. But back to the movie.
In this sterile environment where we moviegoers have been before Eubank scores his narrative through an other dimensional perspective, intriguing mind games and psychological horror a la 2001’s Session 9, filmed at the Danvers State Hospital in as creepy a display as you’ll ever find. That particular movie starred David Caruso of NYPD Blue fame and you can add that to the film fest or 4th DVD for this potential set.
Bringing such disparate subject matter together while touching upon the familiar from each genre is a masterful juggling act that Eubank pulls off as eloquently as Director Duncan Jones did with both Moon and Source Code. The action revs up for a powerful ending which begs a sequel (as did Source Code.) The grand experiment that Fishburne is up to takes a unique twist that doesn’t allow for a spoiler; a truly unexpected ending. The Signal is Highly recommended.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.