Signs (2002)

Well I’m at least glad that the aliens decided to invade Pennsylvania, a state that I live in. So basically I’d be dead by now.

Everything farmer and former priest Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) believes about the world changes when he finds an intricate pattern of circles carved into his fields, mysterious markings that cause a media frenzy and test Hess’s faith. Ultimately, he uncovers the circles’ origins, which will forever alter his and his family’s lives.

Director M. Night Shyamalan get’s a lot of ish, because people say he can never top The Sixth Sense, and basically say that every attempt to do that, has failed miserably. I honestly have no idea what these people speak of, cause if they think “that” is true, then they must have not seen this.

My favorite thing about this film is that its an ordinary, regular alien invasion movie, except instead of focusing all on the havoc, and mayhem this disaster causes, we focus on a family, still in grief, and what they do to cope with the strange events that are happening. And that was what as really neat about this movie, is that we don’t see much, actually going down, from other perspectives, we only see one perspective, which gives us the real great way of filming, and showing that sometimes what you don’t see, is sometimes scarier than what you do see.

This film does, and will give you the creeps at moments, that you wouldn’t have expected. The way M. Night uses the camera as a type of mood, just keeps on giving you the chills, cause you don’t always know what’s going on, and that is the creepiest thing of all.

However, the one problem I had with this film was that not all my questions were answered by the end. I mean of course they weren’t just formally brought up in my face, but I still never got a lot of things. Why did the aliens invade this place? What did they want? Why the hell didn’t this family go somewhere populated? And, why the hell isn’t the military involved with any of this? So many questions, left with so much unanswered thoughts.

Mel Gibson probably gives one of the best dramatic performances of his, long, Jew-hating career. M Night draws a performance from Mel Gibson that is as subtle and deep as those that came from Bruce Willis in the first two films. If you have never understood the word “nuance”, then watch this: it could be the best performance Mel will ever give. Despite rumors to the contrary, Mel wasn’t cast solely because he has a “G” in his name to match the one in the title. Joaquin Phoenix is also very good here, providing a lot of anger within this character, and more anger, means more problems with the family, and he triggers it all so well. Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin, are so cute, and funny, as the two little kids of the family, and make this story a lot more compelling, cause when you throw kids into any dangerous movie, you can’t stop watching. Especially these two kids, I mean their just so precious.

Consensus: It may leave all the questions unanswered, but Signs works so well as suspenseful, and masterfully directed creep fest, that doesn’t show you a lot of what’s going on, which is the scariest thing of all.



  1. FINALLY! Someone else who likes Signs! I thought I was alone!
    I might even go so far as to say I actually prefer Signs to Sixth Sense. It has this brilliant eerieness that never goes away. Keeps you pinned to the edge of your seat all the way through. I never thought a crackle on a baby monitor could freak me out!
    You’re totally right about the strong performances too. I love Phoenix in this, and the whole idea of localising the action on that one family is brilliant. War of the Worlds (the new one) tried to do something similar but Signs really gets it right. I think the scene at the dinner table the night before the attack is so perfectly uncomfortable. Expertyle pitched.

    As for your questions, let’s see if I can help you.
    -Why did the aliens invade this place? What did they want?
    Rory Culkin’s character gives a bit of a hint to this when he is readong from the book about aliens, saying they would most likely invade Earth in a search for resources having used up everything on their own world.

    Why the hell didn’t this family go somewhere populated?
    -Gibson suggests they go to the lake and I think someone else suggests going somewhere else, but I think the point is meant to be that they don’t want to leave their home. It’s where their Mum lived. That sense of wanting to stay in your home even though it might not be the wisest idea isn’t unusual in movies.

    And, why the hell isn’t the military involved with any of this?
    -The thing I like most about this film is that it doesn’t turn into Independence Day. If we were following the military’s attempts to put down the aliens then you’d have a completely different movie. If I remember rightly there are hints of military involvement in Tv and radio reports, but they’re hardly going to be rolling tanks out in middle-of-nowhere farms are they? At the end we also hear that individual armies (etc) have worked out how to kill the aliens and so the invasion is foiled.

    Great post. It’s about time people started appreciating this film and not waiting from Shyamalan to make The Sixth Sense 2.

  2. Hot damn do I just LOVE this movie!! Seeing it again recently I find I adore this more and more with each viewing. Also love your consensus and rating Dan:)

    Music from James Newton Howard really makes them movie (best work he’s done with M. Night imo). Gibson/Phoenix play so well off each other and Culikn/Breslin make for some great casting too. Still not keen on M. Night giving himself more roles in each proceeding film but this is neck and neck with Unbreakable as my favorite Shamhammer film.

  3. I’m going to risk outrage by saying that I really didn’t like Unbreakable. Perhaps I need to see it again, but I was totally disappointed by it. It just didn’t seem to go anywhere.

    • It is just a bit slow at times so I can see where you’re coming from. Still it’s a well crafted story and builds very very well. Give it another shot and you may not mind the “take your time” pace the next time around.

      Also some more fantastic (albeit subdued) work from James Newton Howard to look forward to btw…eh, might be a guy thing though:)

    • I’m actually with you Katie. I didn’t like ‘Unbreakable’ either. In fact, it pretty much sucked in my book. It wasn’t as bad as his films that came after ‘Signs’, but still not really enjoyable for me.

  4. This is the last decent film that Shyamalan did. And no, this one isn’t nearly better than ‘Sixth Sense’. That’s still his best movie (and only great one). ‘Unbreakable’ pretty much sucked I thought (though it was no ‘The Happening’). ‘Signs’ is decent enough. It’s a pretty good film and definitely worth a watch. Shame though that Shyamalan has his head so far up his own ass that he can’t take criticism, thus he’ll probably never correct himself and regain his footing. I fear ‘Signs’ will be the last worthwhile movie we see from him.

  5. To be honest, I thought Signs was M Night’s best film – better than even Sixth Sense. Tense, frightening, and with the cinematic style that is reminiscent of Hitchcock, Signs is a genuine classic…

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