Signs is a movie about a family of four. There’s the father Graham (Mel Gibson), his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), and Graham’s two children, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin). They wake up one morning to find gigantic, mysterious markings in their corn field and soon learn that crop circles are being reported from all over the globe. So begins the obsession of aliens. Graham, who recently lost his wife and resigned as reverend from the church, refuses to believe that there could possibly be other intelligent life out there. However, there’s no denying them when he finds indisputable truth to their existence in the home of his wife’s killer (M. Night Shyamalan).
The cast in this movie is wonderful. Gibson and Phoenix, of course, play their parts masterfully, but I was really swept off my feet by the children’s performances. Culkin makes this role his own, and I could not picture anyone else playing his part as Morgan. In this film, he proves that his older brother Macaulay isn’t the only one in the family born with such talent. Just as charming in her portrayal of one of Graham’s children is Abigail Breslin. Going in, I had no idea that she was in this film, so it was a nice surprise. I fell in love with her as Chanel #5 in 2015’s horror comedy hit Scream Queens. She’s a young child in 2002’s Signs. As a matter of fact, this was her first big break on the big screen, but even still, she’s adorable and delivers her lines with a commendable level of skill at such an early stage in her acting career.
M. Night Shyamalan has always been a proficient writer and director, and he continues to prove this in this alien-centric science fiction. Very early into the movie, I was completely drawn in. The fact that Shyamalan focuses on this one family rather than the entire human race or even just others in their small town during what is perceived as the possible end of times drew me in pretty quickly. The adept acting as well as the incredible production design, headed up by Larry Fulton, gives a sense of homeliness. Every character is likable and it’s easy to feel empathetic towards each one.
Perhaps the best part of the script is the comedic breaks. At times, things would get really serious or emotional, and it was nice to have well-timed jokes and dialogues thrown in to lighten the mood. Although Signs is a mystery drama, the unexpected bits of comedy really shine in this film. Each joke used was smartly written and delivered with grace, making this movie a delight to watch.
One last thing I will praise Signs on is its score, by composer James Newton Howard. The first thing one notices about this film is its opening credits, during which dramatic music plays. It promises a riveting story, which Shyamalan definitely delivers. Throughout the flick, the music is on point with each scene, setting the right tone and aiding to incite the proper emotion from its audience. It’s mysterious when it needs to be, melancholic during emotional flashback dreams, and hair-raising when the time is right.
Signs absolutely deserves its title as a hit classic and is one of Shyamalan’s best works. I was immediately captivated by everything this film had to offer.