Bound for Caltech, three tech nerds – Nic (Brenton Thwaites), Haley (Olivia Cooke) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) – make a detour to track down a hacker called Nomad, who was responsible for almost getting them expelled. But while searching a shack in the dead of night, Haley is suddenly snatched from their car and the boys black out…
Waking up inside a research facility, Nic is informed by the mysterious Dr Wallace Damon (Laurence Fishburne) that as he and his two friends have been placed in quarantine because they made contact with an extra-terrestrial. But, as Nic begins to make sense of his strange new surroundings, nothing adds up – clocks are broken, medical charts are left blank, and strange experiments are being carried out on a cow. What could it all mean and what has happened to Haley and Jonah?
The Signal starts off like your typical road-trip-to-hell thriller, then suddenly shifts gears after the all-too familiar Blair Witch-styled encounter into classic paranoia sci-fi territory by way of THX-1138, The Andromeda Strain and The Island. Director William Eubank cites his influences as The Twilight Zone and Moon, and the films of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. And it’s certainly evident in The Signal‘s visual design and story execution, with the editing being handled by Brian Berden (who worked on Lynch’s Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks).
I’m not giving anything away by revealing that Nic and his friends have become human guinea pigs in a scientific experiment using alien technology. Nic, who needs the support of crutches because of an unnamed condition, gets a new pair of legs capable of moving faster than lightning; while Jonah (Beau Knapp) receives cumbersome hands with the ability to cause a small earthquake.
Former Home & Away heart-throb Brenton Thwaites, who’s currently filming the next Pirates of the Caribbean film, is certainly easy on the eye, but he also brings great depth to his role as the partially-disabled tech nerd whose alien upgrade makes him a mighty force to be reckoned with.
This smart and edgy sci-fi will leave you guessing until the very last shot – but it’s worth the journey.
The Signal is out on DVD release on 13 April from Entertainment One, which will include deleted scenes, outtake and a behind the scenes featurette.