Happy Halloween!

This one’s worth skipping.

The jolly Hess family.


Why yes, I am including this as one of my inevitably several Halloween-themed reviews this month, because really, doesn’t a movie that’s so widely considered an exceptionally thrilling and frightening picture deserve a mention during the very month of horror itself? It does. Especially as I feel it is my duty to tell you how unrelentingly stupid it is.

Signs, directed by the once respected M. Night Shyamalan, is a 2002 sci-fi “classic” that sent chills down the spines of many, so much so that they all failed to notice the isultingly idiotic story and the inexcusably lame twists and turns. In fact, explaining the sheer silliness of it all wouldn’t be possible without giving away the twists, so SPOILERS AHOY!

First of all, the plot: Mel Gibson plays Father Graham Hess, a former pastor who lost his faith after his wife (Patricia Kalember) was part of a fatal car accident and was taken from him in what he considers a cruel act of God. (His past genocides and flooding of the planet got a free pass, though.) He lives on a farm with his brother Merill (Joaquin Phoenix), his insufferably unemotive asthmatic son Morgan (Rory Culkin,  Macaulay’s brother) and his daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin), who won’t finish her glasses of water because they’re too filthy.

Strange thing begin to happen on the farm of theirs. Crop circles are created, swings are swung and figures are seen on the roof. Don’t ask me to explain how this favors their mission to Earth, but these are aliens the Hess family are dealing with. Soon enough they start appearing on other places around the globe and the family start to realize that doom is impending. That is, of course, until they discover that fighting these aliens off makes combating a snail with a salt shaker seem absolutely intense and difficult. No, I am not saying that What Is It? is a better movie. That’d be pushing it.

I will tell you how the humans defend themselves shortly. First a final warning for those of you who really think it matters if I spoil the ending for you.

How long until an invasion of Earth is attempted by aliens who are allergic to oxygen?

Okay, so, with all their vastly superior technology, advanced on such a level that they have made interstellar voyages possible, what is the ultimate weapon required to vanquish these alien intruders? Oh, I’ll tell you. It is a weapon so rare and so hard to come by that even Doctor Who would look upon these aliens and go “You know, for once, I got nothing”. Are you ready? It’s water. Yes, water. That or some wooden doors, which are a bit too complicated for these aliens to use, hence why a character played by Shyamalan himself is able to lock one of them in his cupboard.

There you have it. These aliens, whose primary weaknesses are water and wood (especially those dreaded pantry doors), with the technology required to travel between different world, decided to use it to travel to a planet where 70% is composed of water and the rest is pretty much wood. How M. Night Shyamalan was under the conception that these creatures would terrify audiences in any way I can’t even begin to guess. Another twist, one that I won’t actually reveal, involves Mel Gibson deciphering a message he apparently recieved from God – yes, God – ages ago regarding the defeat of the intruders. That too is a uniquely lame twist.

Signs can’t be called a very good movie if you really stop and think even for a few seconds. Even though its tone is captivating, it is just too silly for me to let it slide, especially how the tone clashes with the ludicrousness of the plot. It also provides dull performances, corny dialogue and alien designs that aren’t impressive nor very scary. I still can’t forgive how Shyamalan was called “the next Steven Spielberg” when this film was released.

Yet, despite these flaws, people seem to love this film, saying that the film is a scary one and that Shyamalan has once again managed to create a compellingly dark tone, just as in The Sixth Sense. And he does. I actually do like the mood Shyamalan succesfully sets in Signs and there are genuine chills and scares (also, James Newton Howard writes a nice score to it all), but it wasn’t distracting enough for me to ignore the silly story, which in turn made me acknowledge what a threat these aliens really are. None whatsoever, that is.

2/5 whatever