Signs (2002)

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Signs (2002)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:23 pm

This was M. Night Shyamalan's take on alien invasion, revolving around the well-known mystery of crop circles and other mysterious doings. It was his was most successful film at the box office since The Sixth Sense (1999), perhaps because it starred Mel Gibson when he was at his peak (this was just before Gibson turned to directing and got bad press for bad personal behavior). Gibson's character lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with his two kids and a younger brother (Joaquin Phoenix).  Since this is a large farm, they are fairly isolated, with the closest neighbor probably about a mile or more away. Gibson's character is recently widowed, his wife having died in a horrific car accident, and he also used to be a priest. The family notes a crop circle on their farm and then becomes aware that they are being watched by something or someone; such crop circles also appear elsewhere, as revealed on the TV news. One of the family dogs goes nuts and is killed.

Shyamalan fills the story with all these little hints and glimpses, as well as some jumps, as he usually does in his films, but it turns out to be a largely empty affair. It may generate suspense for an audience which watches this for the first time, but afterwards, everyone should realize that everything was just a clumsy feint, hiding the fact that this is all simply a standard alien invasion, one which we have all seen many times before in films, going back to the fifties. Why are the aliens fixated on Gibson's property, playing games there..?  We don't know. Shyamalan also throws in enigmatic bits which make little or no sense, the primary one being the wife's parting words for her husband, words which have meaning later, of course, but not with any explanations of why the wife said them. It has to do with blind faith - Gibson's character had lost his and needs to reacquire it - and by the same token the audience also needs to blindly follow Shyamalan's direction and ask no questions. That's hard to do in this case. It also involves the thought that there are no coincidences, that certain odd things happen for a reason or by some grand plan, but Shyamalan's sample here really is a stretch. The best facet of the film is the location; there is this sense of isolation and most of that does work, especially the night scenes, which are understandably more creepy.  BoG's Score: 6 out of 10
Trivia Signs: Shyamalan usually cameos in his films, but gives himself a substantial role in this one, playing the guy who is responsible for the wife's death in the auto accident... 1st film for Abigail Breslin as the daughter; she went on to a prolific film career.
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