“Signs” was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. This would be Night’s 3rd film he served as writer and director following the hugely successful “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in 1999 as well as “Unbreakable” with Willis again and Samuel L. Jackson in 2000.
Graham Hess (Gibson) is former priest now widower living on his farm in rural town in Pennsylvania with his brother Merrill (Phoenix), his son, Morgan (Culkin) and daughter Bo (Breslin). Graham is still struggling after the death of wife 6 months earlier in which he lost his faith and left the Church. One morning they discover large crop circles in their cornfield. Graham dismisses them as vandalism but as the week progresses more circles began to appear all over the world. The thought aliens slowly creeps in to everyone’s mind and isn’t long before Graham begins to experience more than just circles. UFO sightings began to circulate as well and not long after Graham and his family have their faith put to the ultimate test as an age old question is answered. Are We Alone In The Universe?
M. Night Shyamalan was coming off 2 great films. From a psychological thriller to a dark and gritty superhero movie, “Signs” was a step towards science fiction. This was a pretty good film and had everything from great performances to some down right great moments of suspense and horror. Mel Gibson is the standout here with his character going through this huge range of emotions from begin to end. Phoenix is great and the child actors are just as great. Where the film divides amongst audiences is the ending which in my opinion is not as bad as everyone thinks. Sure, it wasn’t the shocking revelation from Sixth Sense but for this particular storyline? Pretty good.
Overall, this is definitely M. Night’s most underrated film. His promising career took a huge nose dive as he directed some of the worst films of all time. 2006’s “The Lady in the Water”, 2008’s “The Happening”, 2010’s “The Last Airbender & 2013’s “After Earth” all bombed at the box office. 2015’s “The Visit” was actually a great horror movie but he definitely bounced back with 2016’s “Split” starring James McAvoy & Anya Taylor-Joy. That was a fantastic psychological horror movie that really took some familiar horror movie cliches blended it seamlessly with great acting and writing.