Signs (2002)

signs poster 2002 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Some great horror moments

Basic plot of the signs is weak, forced trick ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Signs

Studio:  Touchstone Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  August 2, 2002

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


A family that tracks aliens together stays together!

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a man at a crossroads in his life.  A car accident widowed him and now he finds himself as a single father raising his children Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) with his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix).  Hess was once a man of God, but now questions how God could hurt him.  The world is facing a threat.  Strange crop circles have popped-up around the world including the field behind Hess’s home, and there are rumors of an alien invasion.  Hess finds that he must protect his family, read the signs, and regain his faith.


These are our Hershey’s Kisses costumes!

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Signs was his follow-up to his hit film Unbreakable.  The film suffered some casting problems with Mark Ruffalo having to step out of the role of Merrill for medical reason and Joaquin Phoenix stepping in.  The movie was met with mostly positive reviews and big numbers at the box office.

After The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan was on a roll.  He could do no wrong.  Signs continued that trend of success and comparisons to Steven Spielberg, but also showed some weaknesses in his storytelling and some fatal flaws in his writing.  I like Signs, but Signs is troubling.  The movie has some fantastic moments, but it shows a lot of ego on the part of Shyamalan who probably was feeling unbreakable himself.


Ever have that feeling you’re being watched?

Signs basic concept is great and has some of the scariest moments in recent years which remind me a lot of Poltergeist.  Signs taps into some really basic horror, but the basic concept and conclusion of the film is very weak and doesn’t live up to the build-up.

Fortunately, Signs has some strong acting on almost all parts of the cast.  Gibson plays the torn-up former preacher great since he cannot express his rage.  Phoenix is also a good pairing with Gibson and also does a good job with his frustration with life yet still willing to believe in something more.  Culkin follows in the footsteps of his brother to be a great kid actor, and Breslin shows why she was a good casting choice for Little Miss Sunshine.  In addition to the main cast there are some fun supporting cast like Cherry Jones, Ted Sutton, and Nurse Jackie’s Merritt Wever.  It is unfortunate that that Shyamalan thinks he must put himself in his own movies.


One of the best horror scenes in recent pictures!

Signs has some great scares which Shyamalan plays off perfectly through smart visuals.  The alien design is interesting, but forgettable.  Smartly, it isn’t shown much or very clearly for the most part and the build up to seeing it is intense.  It is scenes like the alien on the roof of the barn, the disappearance of the leg into the corn, and the perfect Brazilian birthday party scene which makes you remember the things you were scared of as a child which can still scare you as an adult.


Lame ending to a decent movie

*****Spoiler Alert***** The basic problem of Signs is the concept of Signs that was widely mocked when the movie was released.  The aliens who appear to be taking the people (for food…slavery?) are invading a planet that is mostly made up of water with beings mostly made of water.  The trick ending which was so important in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable doesn’t really work here and feels forced…I know that the whole signs aspect is the real thrust of the movie, but it seems incidental and unnecessary.

Signs is good but has problems.  I think the horror it inspires in me for the most part outweighs the bad parts.  I like the Night of the Living Dead aspects of the story and the movie’s weirdness, but don’t like how the story unfolds.  This is the last M. Night Shyamalan I can tolerate.  His next movie The Village makes Signs look like a masterpiece.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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