- Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
- August 2, 2002
A former reverend living with his family on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in his fields as strange events unfold around the world.
The events of Signs portray an alien invasion, but those events really are just an excuse to tell the story of a man who has lost faith in God as well as the world in general and how he comes to get that back. Truth be told if it wasn’t for the alien invasion portion of this film the story would’ve been dumped on some streaming service if it got lucky.
It’s rather surprising to find a major studio release containing a story with this much focus on anything spiritual. I’m not talking café spirituality where you pick and choose what you like and come up with your own ‘faith’ but rather this is more of a religious faith thing. It’s not heavy on it by the sensibilities of a Pureflix film but it is more noticeable than in many other movies released by a major studio.
When it comes to the alien invasion portion Signs is unusual in that it focuses on the average person and at no point do they get intimately intertwined in a significant conflict with the invading aliens. Mel Gibson does not show up with guns blazing and win/helps to win the day for humanity. His Graham Hess is just a normal guy caught up in events.
There are some deeper things discussed than just invading aliens. Signs touches on things we all think about. Is there destiny? Is there a plan to our existence? Or is it all luck and chance? That’s at the core of this movie. The ending certainly sides with there being something more to it all than just what we get at a surface glance at life. This does not take an atheist point of view on things.
Here we have themes of family and grief and loss and faith. And the film also touches how we must come to terms with those when things do not go as we wish. One could even read into that just because something terrible happens the fault does not fall necessarily at the feet of a higher power but rather at the feet of the individual and how we handle the situation and its consequences is entirely up to us.
There is a sense of unease and uncertainty as events start to happen. The nervousness of the characters translates to the audience. You get a sense of how they are reacting to this rather unique situation that they can’t quite fathom how it will turn out. They range from curious to frightened to being in awe.
The dialogue is pretty great and the performers craft interesting and realistic characters. It goes without saying M. Night Shyamalan does things differently than most directors do. His stories are of a different style. That’s the best way I can put it. Though his themes are rather conventional, he presents things in a different way. And they tend to be well directed. I’m not saying everything is groundbreaking (and the twist gimmick can get a little irritating at times) but on the whole he’s a quality director.
Despite being a science fiction film, the only special effect we get in this whole movie is the alien and it wasn’t that special. I’ve seen micro budget films with better looking aliens. Maybe the issue was because the alien was all CGI. I would’ve gone with some kind of puppet in a manner similar to what they did in the television series Stargate SG1 and in Stargate Atlantis with the addition of CGI to accomplish what a puppet or even costume could not.
Other than that, Signs is a good film. It has a good cast and a good story and definitely has high rewatchability. I definitely recommend this one!