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'The Signal' is fuzzy yet fun

Laurence Fishburne in "The Signal".
Laurence Fishburne in "The Signal".
© Focus Features

The Signal


William Eubank, the director and co-writer of "The Signal", was at the screening of the movie that I attended and after the movie he said that "The Signal" was supposed to be like an episode of "The Twilight Zone". To his credit, the movie does indeed feel like an episode of "The Twilight Zone". The problem with that is that an episode of "The Twilight Zone" is only a half hour or an hour long. "The Signal" is movie length. Yes, it is fairly short at 95 minutes, but even at that length the movie feels a little long.

"The Signal" begins as a not too interesting drama between a man, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Soon enough, some strange things start happening. At first these things are interesting, but after a while the movie starts to feel a little repetitive. Finally, in the last act of the movie, things start to pick up again. Even then though the movie can feel a little slow which is not helped by the many slow motion sequences that come at the end of the movie.

Of course, like any episode of "The Twilight Zone", there is a twist at the end of the story. The twist here is not totally new as it did remind me of at least one movie I have seen, but I did not predict the twist and it is one that I don't believe I have seen used before in quite this way. I confess, however, that I do not completely understand how the twist fits with the motivations of certain characters and the plot of the rest of the movie. It is an interesting twist, but I am not sure how much sense it makes. The twist is fun to think about, but the movie doesn't give any explanation that I could find as to why it happens.

The best part about "The Signal" is definitely watching Laurence Fishburne do his thing. He has many funny lines and a totally captivating presence. Laurence Fishburne's role in "The Signal" also evokes memories of his role as Morpheus in "The Matrix" which is not a bad thing for me.

Visually, "The Signal" is solid. The effects all look great and the shots are all well composed and edited. However, the movie's visuals, for the most part, are not as striking and intriguing as its poster. Still, there are some sequences, particularly at the end, that look very impressive. There is one particular moment at the climax of the movie that is just about as exciting as a movie can get and it is all through the power of the movie's visuals.

The problem with "The Signal" is that it really would have been better suited as an episode of "The Twilight Zone". It just drags in parts. I think part of this is due to the fact that the drama of the movie never really seems to have anything to do with the plot. The plot and the character arcs don't really merge together as one cohesive movie. In fact, the character arcs almost seem to stop before they really develop into anything so that the mysterious plot can continue.

The mysterious plot is definitely the most interesting element of "The Signal". "The Signal" does drag a little, but it is well enough made with an interesting enough mystery that it ends up being fun anyway. I am not sure if the movie would make more sense on a repeat viewing or fall apart in terms of how the ending fits with the rest of the story. As it stands, however, "The Signal" is just fun enough that I think fans of the type of stories featured on "The Twilight Zone" should check it out.