Classic Film Review: Signs (2002)

‘There have been a vast amount of alien films over the years but this still felt unique’

Success or Failure: M. Night Shyamalan

Signs, 2002

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin


After waking up to discover a section of his crops have been flattered, Graham (Mel Gibson, Braveheart) and brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator) play it down as a neighbouring farmer playing a joke. It’s soon discovered that farms across the world have had crop circles magically appear on them. Quick to deny aliens exist, Graham hides the television away from his children, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin), to stop their paranoia. They can’t deny the existence of aliens for too long, though.

Signs, 2The best part about The Sixth Sense was how it took a commonly used genre and twisted it on its head; and that’s what’s good about this film, too. There have been a vast amount of alien films over the years but this still felt unique. It almost didn’t care too much about the aliens, giving them very little on-screen time, and cared more about the drama of a farm family preparing for and fighting off aliens. There is a hurt in the family, too, as some time prior Graham’s wife, Colleen (Patricia Kalember), was murdered by a sleeping driver (played by M. Night Shyamalan in his customary guest appearance in his films). Graham rejected faith (he used to be a priest) and the children are resentful at Graham for allowing their mother to die. It’s a credit to how this film is written that it focuses more on faith than aliens, in an alien-invasion movie.

I also was surprised by just how much I laughed during this film. Little Bo’s peculiar habits with water brought on amusement as did the banter between the family, so to combine elements of natural humour (it doesn’t feel forced) in what is a serious film is really good. However I do think the pacing of this film was a little slow at times, which prevented its ‘Personal’ score being any higher.

Signs, 3

I was never bored, just to clarify this point, but there are a number of scenes, like one where Merrill’s baseball history is talked about or where a cashier opens up about her troubles to Graham, which feel too long and almost take you away from the fact there are aliens imminent. I also found it stupid how most of their preparations for the aliens, and knowledge of what aliens want, came from one specific book (the only book the library had on aliens). The book noted exactly what they’d do after they arrived and the family followed it as gospel, despite in their universe aliens had never been proven prior, meaning the book was jus

t someone’s guesses on one species of alien but it perfectly matched the ones we got. It felt like they needed a reason for doing what they were doing so Shyamalan shoe-horned in this ridiculous book which took up far too much dialogue.

Its Shyamalan-twist-ending also wasn’t as impactful as I was hoping for; it’s very War of the Worlds (which was name-dropped in this film) which disappointed. It was quite nice, and connected a lot of dots throughout the film, but it still felt underwhelming.

Despite those little setbacks, it’s still a very captivating film. It perfectly blends comedy, drama and the supernatural. It slightly disappointed in the twist and a few scenes but overall a very enjoyable film.


Personal: * * *     Acting: * * * *     Writing: * * *     Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ½

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