The Signal ★★

William Eubank's film plays out in the saddest way a low-budget sci-fi film can: incredibly predictably. An initially interesting premise allows the film to coast through the first act with intrigue and promise, but it devolves into a cheap (and incredibly more flawed) District 9 sketch with very little originality.

The film is visually beautiful, and there are some fantastic effects sequences, but none of this really matters - we can expect that from any entry into the sci-fi category. But we also expect some compelling new ideas. Instead we get a cloying dose of attempted poeticism with little to no explained motivation to ground it. Revelations feel weak and ill-conceived, and the drama of the film's conclusion is lost in a disconnected attempt to plant as many unexplained details as possible.