Sunday, October 26, 2014

Horror Thoughts ‘14—The Signal (2014) ***

PG-13, 97 min.
Director: William Eubank
Writers: Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank, David Frigerio
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, Laurence Fishburne

The last movie called “The Signal” that I watched for Horrorfest is one of the better zombie movies out there. This “Signal” is a very different one than in that film, however. This time instead of some sort of broadcast signal that turns people into mad savages, this signal is from an IP address used by a hacker, who lures three unsuspecting MIT students out into the American southwestern desert. The hacker’s purpose and identity provide the movie’s twist in a story that isn’t entirely original, but is well told here.

We meet Nic, who has some sort of degenerative disease that is taking away the use of his legs. He’s with his best friend and his girlfriend. They are taking the girl to some sort of program where she will stay for a year. They are also searching for a hacker that framed them for hacking into the servers at MIT. They think they’ve tracked down his IP address to a house in the middle of the desert. A little side trip to drop in on their tormentor turns very strange very quickly.

Nic wakes up in a facility where a man in a hazmat suit asks him questions about what happened, but is non-reciprocal when it comes to answering questions about where they are and under what circumstances did Nic and his friends come under their care.

It’s difficult to say much more about the plot of the film without giving away spoilers. It may seem like material not quite suited to Horrorfest, and I suppose to some degree it isn’t. There are definitely some horror elements to the plot, however, and it is a finely made independent sci-fi film. There’s a great deal of care put into establishing the mood of the piece through flashbacks and some fairly unique camerawork.

The material works along the same levels as Alex Proyas’s wonderful “Dark City”, although its mood is entirely different, fitting the technology culture from which its hero originates. There’s also a degree of “District 9” in its good-looking low budget delivery. It had a pretty quite release here in the states, but is worth checking out if you are into this type of sci-fi that relies more on mystery than action. It is a stylized account that should please fans of the genre. 

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