The Signal

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Signal Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi tale looks great but isn't very original.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Perhaps the most important message here is "curiosity killed the cat." Also, if you're a computer hacker, don't underestimate anyone else's ability. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters here are fairly typical college-age teens who are smart, sympathetic, and prone to mistakes and doubts. But eventually they try to help one another and overcome difficult odds.


Blood is seen during the climactic showdown. Characters have bloody faces, and there are blood spurts from shootings. A minor character is shown with a rifle and is shot. Characters are briefly seen cleaning rooms that have unknown brown/red stuff splattered on the walls. There's a fight around a big rig truck, and a character is bashed with the door. Characters are mysteriously thrown into the air. There are some jump-scare moments and some shocks. A truck crashes, and there's an explosion.


Two college-age characters are a couple. They kiss and behave comfortably around each other, but not much more. The girl's underwear-clad behind is shown in close-up.


Language isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Signal is a low-budget sci-fi movie involving three college-age teens. It has a few twists that are better not discussed, though younger viewers who've seen fewer sci-fi movies will be more surprised than veteran viewers; suffice it to say that there are definitely some "jump shock" moments. There's a little blood, mostly in a scene in which a minor character is shot; bloody wounds are also shown, and there's some fantasy-style fighting and chasing. Two of the characters are a couple, and they're shown kissing (there's also a close-up of the girl's underwear-clad behind). Expect some strong language, including a few uses of "s--t" and "a--hole."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhelpinghand June 16, 2014

R U Interested

If you are on the fence about seeing it, see it. The acting by Lawerence Fishburne and the up and comer Brenton Thwaites are perfect. A very entertaing and thou... Continue reading
Adult Written byRarityfan2019 March 26, 2020

Hack, hack, hack

Some young people tracks down a hacker on a nomansland road trip, but only to end to be an extraterrestrial experiment. If you love classic 2010s scifi with ov... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTophnaga July 28, 2017


Starts out good and is intriguing with a few scary moments and then becomes predictable and ends horribly. There are a million unanswered questions and it makes... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old June 8, 2015

What's the story?

Best friends/computer hackers Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) are road-tripping through Nevada, taking Nic's girlfriend, Haley (Olivia Cooke), to college. Tensions run high, since Nic worries about his future with Haley; he's in the early stages of a degenerative disease, and he thinks she'll give up on him. Also, Nic and Jonah have become obsessed with catching a mysterious hacker called NOMAD, much to Haley's irritation and impatience. When they believe they've tracked him to a run-down cabin, their adventure has only begun. They wake up in a weird, white building with no information as to how they got there or what's going on -- and only a slim chance of escape.

Is it any good?

THE SIGNAL is the second feature by former cameraman William Eubank, and it looks terrific. He clearly understands the concept of visual space and clarity, rather than the cluttered jumble of so many other sci-fi movies. It opens intimately, with cozy spaces for the three friends, then widens on those creepy, sterile white hallways, followed by disorienting, never-ending stretches of dusty Nevada desert.

Where the movie falters is in its plot, which does have a few cool surprises and powerhouse moments, but for the most part appears to have been borrowed from many other sci-fi movies. The Signal isn't very good at disguising its intentions or throwing viewers off balance. But Eubank has done a fine job with his casting, creating three interesting performances and avoiding the usual disposable, interchangeable teens. And Laurence Fishburne has a tangy supporting role that looks like it must have been fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Signal's sci-fi violence. How much does the movie show -- or not show? Does it tell a good story without relying on nonstop fighting and blood?

  • Is the movie scary? How much of that is achieved through what is and isn't on screen?

  • Would you have gone as far as these characters did in chasing an unseen rival? What would make the characters continue their pursuit?

  • Do the characters seem realistic? How are they similar or different to characters of the same age in other movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

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