Movie Review: The Signal (2014)


My husband Steemed a movie review yesterday. I’m quite proud of him. The only problem is that he failed to issue a proper warning. He suggested that this movie might be an okay choice for someone with time on their hands: “I would give it three stars out of five,” he wrote. “Meaning that if you don’t have anything else in your ‘to watch’ queue then go ahead and pull the trigger on this one. It’s a way to kill a couple hours.”

He forgot to mention you might need to steam-clean the inside of your cranium afterward.

It starts fairly strong–teenager with a disability uses his math-brain to help a little kid win a toy from the claw machine. We never know if the kid actually gets the toy, though, which should have been my first clue that the director for this movie didn’t have control of the story.

The premise is solid. A group of kids traveling cross-country decide to track down a hacker who’s been taunting them online. I mean, as a director, how do you mess something like that up? The kids follow the breadcrumbs to a deserted location in the Nevada desert, and all hell breaks loose. @sk43 failed to mention in his review that the plot is decidedly paranormal, so I was a bit surprised to see one of the characters flying through the air like something had plucked her up by the ankle. Poltergeist, much? Yikes! Holy cow, Mr. Movie Reviewer–that might have been a detail you wanted to include.

But I kept watching. All the while, I was tallying a list of questions that would need good answers, like what was the thing that didn’t eat the cow like the T-Rex ate the goat in Jurassic Park, and then escaped, leaving huge swaths of ripped and scorched metal in its wake? The Director, William Eubank, didn’t seem to think we need to know.

Maybe I should be thrashing on the screenwriters rather than the director. Still, I find it very disheartening that anyone could take a premise this strong and leave the viewer with nothing. It really seems as if the people making this movie got so caught up in dramatic cinematography that they forgot to tell the story. By the end, nothing was happening at all onscreen except sweeping panoramas, slow motion ferris wheel shots, and bizarre CGI.

My hubby gave it three stars out of five. I’m not so generous. I give it two stars out of five. Meaning, don’t even bother, unless you need something on for background noise.

This is a shame, too. I feel bad for the actors. Brenton Thwaites, in the starring role, didn’t do a terrible job. He was believable, but never really got the opportunity to trot out his skills. Olivia Cooke, in the role of Haley, mostly just had to lie on a gurney and look comatose. Beau Knapp brought the crazy as Jonah, and Laurence Fishburne brought his face. Well, to be fair, he had some lines of dialogue. But he never really said anything.

Am I glad I watched the film? Sure. It gave me something to post about. Otherwise, I’d be filing a claim to get that hour and a half of my life back.

Share your thoughts in the comments. @sk43 and I are looking forward to getting some dialogue started. 🙂