Preacher Graham Hess loses his faith in God after his wife dies in a brutal car accident. He lives with his children and brother in a farmhouse. Crop circles start to appear in their cornfields; Graham dismisses them as mischief by miscreants. After hearing strange noises and watching news coverage on crop circles appearing all over the world, the family grows suspicious of alien activities. Now they must stick together as a family and believe, to survive and escape the ordeal.Written by
The end credits are black text that rolls over a black screen with a illuminated blue circle in the middle, instead of the traditional white text on a flat black background. See more »
An additional deleted scene was shown during the credits when it aired on a pay channel in the USA. Grahm Hess tells everyone they must go into the basement. He then tells the story of how he accidentally dislocated Merrill's elbow when he was 1½ years old, and that Merrill never got mad at him. The scene ends with everyone walking down the stairs and closing the basement door. See more »
In a documentary that accompanies the film on DVD, M. Night Shyamalan admits that SIGNS was greatly influenced by such films as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and Hitchcock's THE BIRDS--an admission that will come as no surprise to any one who has seen SIGNS in the wake of those films. Although very different, all three have one thing in common: they ultimately focus on a small group of people fighting off an unnatural entity that attempts to invade their very ordinary homes.
The story is an unusual mix of meditative religious and classic sci-fi elements blended together by Shyamalan's remarkable sense of visual style. Mel Gibson is a minister who has lost his faith in the wake of his wife's tragic accidental death and who now rejects the concept of unseen powers entirely--so he is nonplussed when his children discover a crop circle in his own cornfield. He remains skeptical even as television news coverage reports alien crafts hovering over major cities. But his denial is exploded when he and his family have a close encounter of the extremely nasty kind.
The small cast is extremely, extremely good. I generally dislike Mel Gibson as an actor, but he has grown a bit since his macho-bravado BRAVEHEART days, and while he might seem an unlikely choice for the part of a failed minister he carries it extremely well. Joaquin Phoenix is perfectly cast as Gibson's younger brother, and the children--Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin--are flawless.
What isn't flawless is the story. The blend of religious and sci-fi motifs is an interesting idea, but director Shyamalan (who also wrote the script) doesn't quite manage to hold them in balance, and ultimately winds up beating you over the head with the film's religious elements while giving the sci-fi elements the short end of the stick. I did appreciate the fact that the film builds suspense more by what it does not show than what it does, and I have no qualm with that--it's a welcome choice after such special effects overkill as INDEPENDENCE DAY and the like--but several of his plot devices smack of stereotype, and the film's conclusion is such a deus ex machina that it is not to be believed. There is indeed a great deal to admire about the film, but when all is said and done it somehow lacks sincerity and falls just short of the mark. Entertaining nonetheless.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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