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'The Signal'

Insanity rocks a town after the late-night broadcast of murder-inducing static over TV, radio and telephone lines. A kind of craziness might also be said to rock The Signal, as three directors offer three different approaches to segments of the narrative.

The story is broken into "transmissions," with the first — in which a woman returns from a rendezvous with her lover to find her husband slaughtering his football-watching buddies — being played pretty straight. Transmission Two gets played for laughs, as the husband follows his now-frantic wife into the streets, only to be sidetracked by a party where severed heads smoke cigarettes, and there's more blood than beer. Transmission Three is played more for weirdness than for laughs, with the woman's lover riding to the rescue ... sort of.

With three directors, it's something of a wonder that the film is coherent at all, but though the narrative is followable, it's also scattered enough that you'd have to call The Signal more a curiosity than an entertainment.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.