Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.
M. Night Shyamalan
Bryce Dallas Howard,
Preacher Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, has lost his faith in God after his wife dies in a brutal car accident. He along with his son and daughter and his brother Merrill moves into a farmhouse. Crop circles begin to appear in their corn fields which Graham dismisses as mischief by miscreants. After hearing strange noises and watching news coverage on crop circles appearing all over the world, the family begins to suspect of extraterrestrial activities. Now they must stick together and believe, as a family to survive the ordeal and find a way to escape from the clutches of the alien invaders. Written by
In last week's issue of Newsweek, M. Night Shyamalan is quoted as saying to his accomplices in crime, "If I did 'Pokemon 5,' would you come? Come on! I could turn it into a metaphor for the human condition!" The scary thing about that comment is not only that he probably *could* do it if afforded the opportunity, but also that he pulls off a similar trick in "Signs," which from an artistic standpoint is easily the best film he's ever done.
The greater picture of the film is the crop signs that suddenly and quickly start appearing worldwide - and the question of whether they mean anything for mankind as a whole. But once the greater picture is laid out in the first twenty minutes, it takes a complete backseat to Shyamalan's happy & pained family of four, and focuses on their feelings, their worries, their doubts; as the horror of what's transpiring in the greater picture creeps closer to them.
When Merrill says, "It's like War of the Worlds," it's NOT hyperbole, even though we never see what transpires in the greater picture. Instead, Shyamalan focuses on the subtle nuances of the fear of the individual. Instead of seeing hundreds of soldiers fighting in hand-to-hand combat with gigantic bugs, we gain an appreciation of what it's like for those who aren't blessed with such courage - or, in Graham Hess' case, being able to find it again.
This is the first horror movie I've ever seen that both genuinely scared me
because you sympathize with the family's plight, even without seeing it -
and made me laugh at the same time, because the family's reaction to the terror unfolding in the world is a sign itself of a strength that most don't have - the ability to be levelheaded and always keep things in perspective, no matter how scary or "out-there" the situation is.
As usual, Shyamalan gets excellent performances out of all of his actors, especially Willis & Breslin as Graham & Bo. As usual, everything you see means something - the trick, like with "Sixth Sense" & "Unbreakable, is whether or not you can put them all together. I'd be shocked, though, if this film doesn't get nominated for its sound - the soundtrack is Hitchcockian-creepy, and Shyamalan is a master at using sound effects to create the terror that the visual effects normally do.
Don't go to "Signs" expecting a monster movie, or a shock ending, but definitely see it before the summer's out, and be prepared to be moved in ways that you previously couldn't have imagined from a horror or suspense film. It's been said that a genius of film is one who knows how to transcend or reinvent a genre - and with this film, M. Night Shyamalan is decidedly on his way there, if he hasn't already reached it. 10/10
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