A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
When the name M. Night Shyamalan is thrown around, many shield their eyes in fear and beg for mercy; at least, that’s the case nowadays. We all remember a time where Shyamalan’s name brought interest and excitement into audiences’ minds.
This was around the turn of the century; post-“Sixth Sense”. It’s fair to say that following his 2002 sci-fi-invasion thriller “Signs”, Shyamalan has lost his way, but it doesn’t mean we cannot reminisce and nostalgically appreciate his former works.
“Signs” is an interesting mix of the genres that can grow to be appreciated well after the first viewing. It’s not his best, but it’s no “Last Airbender” all the same…
With an impressive cast lead by the supremely talented Mel Gibson, “Signs” is centred around the age-old conspiracy phenomenon of the mysterious crop circle patterns.
Former Reverend Graham Hess (Gibson) discovers mysterious patterns in his fields but brushes it off as a practical joke. After speculation and mounting evidence piles on, Hess and his family begin to fear there may be more to this than they initially thought.
“Signs” is a strange one for me as it didn’t overly impress me upon the first viewing, but it was only after I thought about certain elements within and watched an ‘analysed/explained’ video that I grew to understand and appreciate more about it.
There are sub-plots that on their own seem rather pointless and unnecessary, but it’s only after things mould together that they play a pivotal part in the grand scheme of things.
There is a religious element running within the narrative that is very important in the aspect of faith and losing it, but it’s subtly thrown in the mix on many occasions.
There are a lot of common complaints with “Signs”, mostly dealing with what people perceive as plot-holes or stupid narrative choices. I can understand these complaints to an extent, however I am a strong believer in everything happening for a reason within a film, whatever it is.
I have faith that Shyamalan included what he did and omitted what he did for reasons he thought would benefit the film. The ‘analysed/explained’ video focuses on a few common qualms with “Signs” and dresses them very well; I highly recommend you see it as it gave me a new perception of the film.
I usually stick to writing a review immediately after watching a film with no influence from outside sources, however on this occasion, curiosity got the better of me; not due to a lack of understanding, but because of the sheer fascination with Shyamalan and his catalogue of works. It’s just different with this enigmatic individual.
As previously mentioned, Mel Gibson is at his very best as Graham Hess. I am a fan of Gibson as an actor, but I was really blown away by his efforts in “Signs”.
As the film progresses and the tension escalates, there are also moments of humour sprinkled within the script, and it’s a credit to Gibson that he is able to play the comedy to it’s full potential.
A young Joaquin Phoenix is also fantastic as Graham’s brother Merrill, while a very young Rory Culkin impresses as son Morgan. Furthermore, the even younger Abigail Breslin is simply adorable as Bo, the curious young daughter of Graham who is one of the better and more believable child actors put to screen.
M. Night Shyamalan didn’t disappoint with “Signs”, but following his finest in “The Sixth Sense” and 2000’s “Unbreakable”, it was an indicator of the downward slope Shyamalan would soon find himself on.
I think it’s fair to say that not only he, but anyone for that matter, could not estimate the grandeur of that slope. Nevertheless, “Signs” was not a failure, but for a film with such a large budget, I feel it could have been achieved much more.