The summer of Shyamalan continues! Already did The Sixth Sense and The Village, so this train is going to keep rolling right along to Signs. I wasn’t inspired to watch Signs because of watching so many M. Night Shyamalan movies recently, but rather because I think it’s a really fun summer movie. I don’t even think it takes place during the summer, but it sure as shit was released in the summer! I might be biased with how much I enjoy this movie because I think aliens are scary as shit. Whether it be Fire in the Sky or certain episodes of The X Files, aliens have been creeping the fuck out of me for decades. I should also note that if you are also someone who thinks aliens are scary, definitely check out V/H/S/2 as it has a segment in it that makes aliens scary again. Oh yeah, and remember when Mel Gibson wasn’t insane? That was fun!
Hold it up higher! Maybe you’ll be able to hear some space babies!
After Graham (Mel Gibson) loses his faith when his wife is killed in a car accident, he lives with his brother-in-law Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) and his two children, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) on a farm. When they wake up to find a crop circle on their property, they dismiss it as a couple of locals kids pulling a prank. After experiencing a strange person on the roof of their house, some weird transmissions on an old baby monitor, and a possible sighting of an alien in their crops, Graham is having a harder time believing that this is just a few local kids playing a trick. Their begin to be more and more encounters with these aliens across the world, and as the experiences get more intense, Graham realizes that he has to accept what’s going on as a reality. Hoping to survive the night, Graham and his family board up all the windows and doors in hopes that it will keep out the aliens, and luckily they do survive the night. They do have one more firsthand encounter with an alien that results in Graham’s faith being reaffirmed and realizing that all the events in someone’s life do happen for a reason.
Really missed out on a merchandise tie-in opportunity and those stupid tinfoil hats.
WAIT, SO SIGNS RELATES TO MORE THAN JUST CROP CIRCLES?! LIKE, WE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO SIGNS THE UNIVERSE MIGHT BE SHOWING US?! Damn, that’s deep. Right from the beginning of this movie you can see Hitchcock’s influence on Shyamalan’s direction. Hitchcock did a lot of alien movies, right? The opening credit sequence not only looked like Hitchcock with its text on a stark background, but the music sounded a lot like the legendary Psycho score. Another trend that I picked up on with Shyamalan’s visual style in this movie was his use of longer takes that involve panning the camera from the left to the right. This ended up being really effective when it was used to reveal some of the scares of the movie, so the more you got used to seeing the camera pan left and right, the more comfortable with these camera movements so that the final scare of the film did surprise you. GUYS IT’S SCARY, OKAY?! Whether you’re scared of aliens or not, one sequence involving a pickaxe and a swinging lightbulb is really effective and if you say that scare you just a little bit then I will call you a liar.
I don’t even think THEY know which Culkin they’re looking at.
A big complaint that a lot of people like to point out is that something that ends up being a weakness for the aliens is something that’s quite easily found on Earth and that maybe the aliens should have done their research. Just because they made a spaceship to visit another planet doesn’t mean they’re brainiacs, and it’s entirely possible that this could have been a reconnaissance mission to plan a better attack. Granted, that mission involved multiple spaceships all around the world, but come on, is that REALLY what you’re going to nitpick? I’d definitely say that falls into the suspension of disbelief category, which I guess I find myself doing a lot with Shyamalan’s movies. Especially considering that this movie is predicated on the idea that everything happens for a reason, you have to believe there’s some sort of higher power at play or that maybe it’s all part of some master plan, so pointing out that the aliens are easily defeated seems like kind of a moot point. One of the movie’s biggest strengths would be its cast, because remember, Mel Gibson wasn’t THAT crazy back then, and seeing the relationship between him and an awkward brother-in-law was pretty entertaining. Add to that the always talented Culkin clan and a very young Abigail Breslin and you create an engaging family dynamic. Although there is a weird cameo from Michael Showalter that kind of comes out of nowhere, but it’s a scene that serves mostly as comedic relief. I guess if you don’t like Shyamalan movies then I can see why you might not like this one, but if you think aliens are scary as shit, like I do, there are plenty of moments to creep you out.
Wolfman Moon Scale