Ecclesiastes 1:4-11 said: What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Most movies seem to have taken those words to heart, because they tend to be be all the same, no matter whether they’re comedies, action movies, or Biblical epics. Sure, actors may change, special effects improve, but when all is said and done, they’re still the same.
Though there are exceptions, such as William Eubank‘s The Signal. What makes this movie so remarkable is that it takes ideas that you have seen before, and mixes them up in such a way as to create something that at least feels new.
And that’s saying something.
There were a few instances that I though that I had this picture made, and I was often sort of right; though it’s that little bit of uncertainty, that small helping of doubt, that made it such a clever and enjoyable ride.
This perspective even filtered down to the way the film was directed because The Signal starts as one thing, and before you know it, right under your nose, morphs into a bigger, more interesting thing.
Most movies are made in a way that the audience knows what’s going to happen before the characters on screen or the director (deliberately?) neglects to show you information that would make everything that unfolds a whole lot clearer.
Which is one reason that I can’t watch Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects without getting irritated. Keyser Söze literally builds an life out of found items in the police station, which is clever but I don’t recall the character acting with the high level of scrutiny that such an act would have required.
But as I said, The Signal is different. The characters on screen are in the dark, though you are too, both literally and figuratively.
It’s a scary feeling, but I have to admit that I liked it.