A widowed former priest living with his children and brother on a Pennsylvania farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields, which suggests something more frightening to come.A widowed former priest living with his children and brother on a Pennsylvania farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields, which suggests something more frightening to come.A widowed former priest living with his children and brother on a Pennsylvania farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields, which suggests something more frightening to come.
There's a lot to commend M Night Shyamalan's SIGNS for . It's not often we see such a moody atmospheric thriller about an alien invasion and I will praise this movie later . However Shyamalan shots himself in the foot by the way the story is told
Crop circles appear outside the home of the Hess family and after Graham Hess and his brother Merril find out that it wasn't caused by local pranksters Graham's son Morgan comes up with the answer - It was done by aliens . He knows this because he read a book on the subject . Obviously everyone else in the world has read only one book - The same one as Morgan - because as soon as crop circles appear round the world it's the leading story and can mean only one thing: The aliens are coming . And sure enough just like everyone has predicted lights appear over Planet Earth's cities which herald the start of little green men come to wipe us out
If someone told you crop circles were signs on an alien invasion how would you react ? Exactly but at no point does anyone question a possible invasion because it's taken as read by all the characters in the story which starts to become ridiculous when the world's broadcasters start interrupting programmes showing the world wide phenomenon of crop circles . Let's be honest here jet liners crashing into sky scrapers is a good reason to interrupt TV shows with 24 hour news reports but people finding crop circles all over the world is not
There's one other thing : Ten year old Morgan seems to be channeling the minds of Newton , Darwin and Einstien . Listen to this kid's dialogue " Everything people have written about in science books is about to change " and there's several more instances of this . You can't take this child seriously or believe in him as a three dimensional character
Make that two things : Why would aliens invade a planet whose surface is composed of 70% water ? Isn't the human body two thirds water anyway. Oh and how does Graham's neighbour know that the aliens don't like water anyway ?
Better make that three things because if the subtext is about rediscovering ones faith then why is everyone certain of an approaching invasion ? Surely for this theme to work then Graham should have been shouting from the roof tops that aliens don't exist only to be proved wrong . If he's wrong about aliens then surely he's wrong about the non existence of the lord right ?
It's a great pity that Shyamalan didn't think these things through a bit further because despite not ruining the movie these things stop SIGNS becoming a masterpiece of genre cinema which it certainly had the potential to be . Even a critical viewer like myself who noticed the flaws couldn't help being terrified by the climax in the cellar where for one heart stopping moment it looked like a couple of the characters had been abducted . As for the scene Graham sees the reflection in the TV .... I certainly can't fault the good bits and I will recommend this movie even to those who don't like SF/Horror very much . Certainly it's a radical change to watch a film like this that doesn't have tens of millions spent on special effects and the film works better for it . You reading this Mr Spielberg ?
Shyamalan will best be remembered for THE SIXTH SENSE , a film that I found somewhat overrated while his follow up UNBREAKABLE was a masterpiece in my opinion . SIGNS is slightly different because it doesn't have one of those shock twist endings and when you consider what a poor film THE VILLAGE is one can't help thinking that Shyamalan would be better off abandoning clever endings and concentrating on terrifying audiences and I would wonder if he could get away with directing a Hollywood version of Nigel Kneale's QUATERMASS AND THE PIT . Now that would be worth queuing at the cinema for
Update 30 dec : Some have mentioned that the concept of predestination is very important to understanding the movie ie the plot holes aren't actually plot holes viewed this way and while this makes absolute sense in a metaphysical way it still misses out on logic
- Theo Robertson
- Dec 28, 2005