Imagine waking up in an unknown place, where things appear to be one thing but aren’t, and you’re left with the painstakingly daunting task of trying to get home – but continuously run into dead ends. That’s a pretty basic explanation of the premise of the new sci-fi thriller “The Signal” which opens Friday, June 13, but fortunately it is one of those films where the less you the know the better. In Philadelphia to promote the film, director William Eubank (“Love”) sat down to discuss and give some insight into the making of and the casting decisions behind it.
When asked if he had Laurence Fishburne in mind to play the character Damon when he conceived the film, Eubank shared, “You know, he was always like a powerful person. I usually think of characters from particular movies when I’m doing a movie. When I was conceiving (“The Signal” with co-writers Carlyle Eubanks, David Frigerio), I always envisioned Damon as Anton Chigurh from “No Country For Old Men.” Just in terms of his power and presence. And so when it comes time to cast, you’re like who can bring that gravity and weight. And I never would have thought I would have got Laurence Fishburne! He enjoyed reading the script, came on board and we were really fortunate to have him.”
In discussing why he chose to present the lead character Nic as having a physical illness, Eubank stated “It’s not meant to be the focus, just more of a background. Part of the reason I open the movie the way I do (a scene that displays a physical challenge) is because I want people to realize that’s not really what defines him as a person. His disability isn’t him. It might be something that hides in the back of his mind at times, and compels him to act in certain ways or say certain things, but he knows he’s not defined by it.”
The director also shared that he intentionally made a movie that the audience would question if it was an origin story, and wanted to do a movie that took the Area 51 mythology and flipped it. And he has certainly achieved just that with “The Signal,” because this film is an enigma and the audience will leave the theater with plenty of questions and theories. But they won’t be able to find those answers in the trailer, which was nominated for a “Golden Trailer Award” – one that Eubank is extremely proud of as an admitted “lover” of trailers and as a director who was hands on with creating it.
Eubank is also a self-described “Twilight Zone” fan, and fans of that show may be able to draw parallels to “The Signal.” Eubanks favorite episode is “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” in which a husband and wife wake up in a strange place, where things aren’t as they appear to be, and keep running into dead ends trying to make their way home. Sound familiar?