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#148 - Signs
M. Night Shyamalan, 2002



A former pastor, his children and his brother are terrorised by the increasing threat of an alien invasion.

I think it's pretty telling that this is actually the first time I've watched a Shyamalan film in almost a decade and also the second actual Shyamalan film I've watched (after The Sixth Sense, which was alright at first even though I already knew the twist before watching and haven't given much thought to since). Of course, given the unfortunate reputation that both this film and its creator have earned over the course of the past decade or so I was naturally skeptical as to whether or not this would actually be any good, but I decided to try and put as much of that out of my mind while watching this (though knowing this particular film's twist did not work in the film's favour).

Even leaving aside the low expectations, Signs is still rather underwhelming. The dialogue is incredibly stilted and the acting isn't good enough to sell it (even when it comes to generally solid actors like Gibson and Phoenix). Though the film is ultimately more about Gibson's retired pastor (who has recently been widowed and has to care for two young children) having a crisis of faith than it is about the gradual appearance of aliens, the dragged-out revelations in regards to both sides of the story is still handled fairly badly (especially when they inevitably converge at the very end of the film). There's also the poor handling of the reveal about the aliens' true nature. I get that the truth has to be held until the very end for dramatic purposes despite there being several instances where it could've been revealed with ease but that just feels especially contrived during an already contrived third act, especially considering the clumsy foreshadowing from the rest of the movie. I can see the potential at work here, but it's all squandered as part of some half-baked religious dilemma. Even the occasional instance of tension being generated by the presence of the aliens is undercut by various reasons such as poorly-executed scares, illogical decisions or exposition that is either too vague or too heavy-handed. The CGI effects, well, it's a testament to the rest of the movie that I barely register the quality of the CGI on display.