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The Signal

(2008) ** 1/2 R
104 min. Magnolia Pictures. Directors: David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, Dan Bush. Cast: AJ Bowen, Scott Poythress, Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn, Michael Sahr Ngaujah.
The tripartite film The Signal borrows a conceit from J-horror—technology as a portal for evil—and puts it through the American indie horror wringer. The signal in question, sent by someone (terrorists?) over the airwaves, induces "paranoia, rage, enhanced susceptibility" and a serious killer instinct. In part one, the city of Terminus scatters amid blooming insanity. Among those on the run are a married woman and her lover. The lovers hope to stay alive, find each other, and escape the city, while her jilted husband wants what he thinks he's owed: his wife and his revenge. Part two is a dark comic farce made possible by homicidal insanity, and part three serves as climax for the central conflict. Forgiving horror fans will enjoy the gonzo gore, but there's too much meandering for The Signal to qualify any of the three filmmakers represented as an exciting new voice.
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