The Signal

Not to be confused with the 2007 American horror film, The Signal is a 2014 American science fiction film directed by William Eubank, with his brother Carlyle Eubank co-writing the script.

Three students, Nic, Haley and Jonah, are on a road trip to take Haley to California. Nic is suffering from muscular dystrophy which is making his walking very difficult and puts his relationship with Haley under strain, as he thinks that his disability is a burden to her.

During their stay in a hotel, Nic and Jonah discover that the enigmatic hacker, going under a moniker NOMAD, who is taunting them since university, has found them even here and continues teasing them with his puzzling messages. Finally the curiosity gets the best of them and, since they are able to locate his position (by analysing his IP address) not far from their route, they decide to make a small detour in order to find the identity of the mysterious hacker.

Eventually, the trio tracks NOMAD to a remote house in the middle of nowhere. Nic and Jonah go to explore the house, while Haley decides to stay in the car. The boys find the house empty, derelict, and clearly long abandoned. Just before they decide to leave, things start to go south. After hearing Haley’s piercing screams from outside, Nic and Jonah rush out, and shortly after that black out, but not before seeing Haley pulled high into the air by some unseen force.

When Nic regains his consciousness, he finds himself in a sterile underground research facility, confined to a wheelchair.

When Nic wakes up, he finds himself in a strange, sterile underground research facility, confined to a wheelchair, not being able to feel his legs. He is taken care of by a team of men, all dressed in white Biohazard Suits, led by eerily calm Dr. Wallace Damon, to whom he is wheeled for regular interrogation sessions. Nic learns from Dr. Damon that what they have encountered near the house was EBE - an Extra-terrestrial Biological Entity, and the reason why he is in this facility is to determine what, if any, effects this had on his health.

If they only heeded Nomad’s stark warning: “If you come after me,
I [will] own you”

Nic remains suspicious, as there are many things which just don’t add up: strange tattoo "2.3.5.41" on his forearm, wall clock which is not moving, bathroom sign that is mounted upside down, deep scorch marks running along the walls of the corridors, and, not the least, the voice of Jonah coming out of a small vent in the wall, despite Dr. Damon saying that Jonah was "never recovered" from the house of the incident.

His suspicions are soon confirmed in the worst possible manner, when after a failed break-out attempt with Haley (who is also in the facility, confined to a bed) Nic’s bandages fall off and he is horrified to discover that his legs have been replaced by creepily-looking prosthetic legs made from some highly-advanced alien technology.

Nic is taken for regular interrogation sessions with Dr. Wallace Damon, who subjects him to a series of mundane questions and tests. Dr. Damon’s sinister calmness is almost palpable -:- Nic: "Why don't you have any clocks that work?" Damon: "Clocks that work?" Nic: "Yeah. The one in the hallway is stuck at 12:30." Damon: "Nic, it's a broken clock. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Can we please proceed with the shapes and colours?"

The second escape attempt, after Nic gains a mastery of his super-powered alien legs, is successful, and Nic and Haley find themselves in the middle of a vast barren area with a seemingly endless canyon running around it. The area is populated only scarcely, and all the people they meet seem to be having some serious mental issues. As Nic and Haley try to find a way across the canyon, driving in a hijacked truck, they soon come across Jonah dressed in a biohazard suit, disguised as one of the facility's employees. Nic learns that Jonah’s hands have been replaced with the same alien technology as his legs, and Haley also appears to have had alien implants inserted into her spine.

After a standoff at the military checkpoint, Jonah uses his alien, super-human prosthetic arms to cover Nic and Haley’s escape, but he dies in the process. Nic and Haley’s luck is short-lived though, as they soon run into Dr. Damon and his militia blocking the only bridge that would take them over the canyon and to the outside world. Nic suddenly realises that "Damon" is a ambigram of "NOMAD" and therefore NOMAD and Damon are one and the same person. Unbeknown to him, this is just the first of several shocking revelations waiting for him on this day.

In this waking nightmare, there is no escape from eerily calm Dr. Damon, superbly portrayed by Laurence Fishburne.

The film’s clever script and eerie, unforgettable scenes that will stay with you long after seeing this weird movie, are outdone only by outstanding performances of Brenton Thwaites as Nicholas ‘Nic’ Eastman and Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Wallace Damon / Nomad. Equally disturbing and thought-provoking, The Signal is definitely one of the best low-budget science fiction films of 2014 – miss it at your own peril!