Film & DVD Review: Signs

Director: M Knight Shyalaman. Starring: Mel Gibson, Joachim Phoenix, Cherry Jones.

Reviewed by David Kerr

Signs DVD Cover

Click on image to buy this DVD

Mel Gibson is better known for his ‘action man’ roles: Mad Max, William Wallace in Braveheart and Benjamin Martin in Patriot. In Signs, he is Graham Hess, a widowed Preacher left, with his younger brother, to bring up two small children on a farm in Bucks County in Pennsylvania.

Strange things are happening about the farm. A 500 foot crop circle appears in a field of corn. Odd noises can be heard around the house at night. Gentle and trusted dogs behave violently. Meanwhile on television and radio, reports are pouring in from all over the world of crop circles. As Officer Park (Cherry Jones) says, “What in God’s name is going on?” Is it a ‘nerd scam’ by 30-year-old men with no girlfriends as suggested by Graham’s brother, Merrell (Joacquim Phoenix)? If so, what are the strange signals coming through an old baby monitor? As the tension builds up, it soon becomes clear that the earth is under attack from hostile aliens.

In the middle of these events, Graham is going through his own personal crisis of faith since the recent death of his wife in a horrific car accident. At a time when hundreds of thousands are reported to be flocking to temples, churches and synagogues, Hess has lost all faith. As they board up their house for protection, he tells his brother that, “There is no-one watching over us, Merrell. We’re all on our own.” Can Graham regain his faith, or is he truly on his own?

The director, M Knight Shyalaman, builds up the tension gradually, while occasionally lightening the load with some comic situations. As in his The Sixth Sense, this film is quite unsettling, even disturbing, despite its 12 certificate. It sure scared the hell out of me, especially the claustrophobic scenes in the basement of the Hess’s boarded up house.

This is no mindless shoot-’em-up blockbuster, but a thoughtful film that is bound to become a classic.

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