09th Apr2015

‘The Signal’ DVD Review

by Joel Harley

Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, Jeffrey Grover, Lin Shaye, Robert Longstreet | Written by Carlyle Eubank, William Eubank, David Frigerio | Directed by William Eubank


Nothing to do with the no-budget semi-zombie horror film of the same name, frequently found populating the shelves of Poundland and cheapo DVD outlets everywhere; The Signal is a classy Laurence Fishburne joint, casting the big man as a government agent on the trail of bionically superpowered kids and the titular alien (?) signal.

District 9, Chronicle and Catfish (yes, really) are among the unlikely points of reference here, being a story in which a group of pretty young teenagers take off on a roadtrip in search of an elusive Internet figure who lures them out into the middle of nowhere. Once there, things get pretty weird, leaving young MS sufferer Nic (Brenton Thwaites) waking up in a mysterious government facility, separated from his best pal and girlfriend. Where his buddy and ladyfriend (Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke) have gone, no-one will say, but government agent Wallace Damon (Fishburne) isn’t shy in demanding answers of his own. When Nic starts hearing his friend’s voice through a vent in his cell wall is when he really starts to question his own sanity.

The ever-enjoyable Fishburne is perhaps the strongest reason to stick with The Signal, it being yet another interesting choice from one of cinema’s more underrated personalities. Like his recent The Colony, it’s not particularly original, but it is done with style and flair. The film’s slow-burning arthouse manner will, however, put many off at first. That improves with some slick action and the introduction of a pair of bionic legs, but many will remain put off by its slow story and the continued emphasis on style over substance. It’s well-acted by all (particularly the ever-impressive Cooke) and looks fantastic though, with some haunting visuals and sympathetic performances carrying it through its dreamier moments.

Come for Fishburne, stay for a fantastic action sequence involving a lorry and some Robocop legs. The Signal is a flawed but consistently interesting sci-fi feature, marked by its star performance and 2001-esque imagery.

*** 3/5

The Signal is released on DVD on April 13th, courtesy of eOne.


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