Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Produced by||M. Night Shyamalan
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Editing by||Barbara Tulliver|
|Studio||Blinding Edge Pictures
The Kennedy/Marshall Company
|Distributed by||Touchstone Pictures|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Executive producers for the film comprised Shyamalan, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Sam Mercer. On August 2, 2002, the original motion picture soundtrack, which was composed by James Newton Howard, was released by the Hollywood Records label. A joint collective effort to commit to the film's production was made by Touchstone Pictures, Blinding Edge Pictures, and the Kennedy/Marshall Company. It was commercially distributed by Touchstone Pictures theatrically, and by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in home media format.
The story focuses on a former Episcopal priest named Graham Hess who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. Hess slowly becomes convinced that the phenomena are a result of extraterrestrial life. It stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. Signs explores faith, kinship and extraterrestrials.
Following its premiere in theatres nationwide on August 2, 2002, the film grossed $227,966,634 in domestic ticket receipts screening at 3,453 theatres during its widest release. It earned an additional $180,281,283 in business through international release to top out at a combined $408,247,917 in gross revenue. The film was nominated for multiple awards, including those from the Online Film Critics Society and the Empire Awards. The film also won an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Considering its $72 million budget costs, the film was considered a strong financial success after its theatrical run, and was generally met with mixed to positive critical reviews before its initial screening in cinemas, with critics praising its atmosphere and story but criticising its script and performances. The high-definition Blu-ray Disc edition of the film featuring the director's audio commentary, the making of the film, and deleted scenes was released in the United States on June 3, 2008.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (November 2012)|
Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a former Episcopal priest. His wife Colleen (Patricia Kalember) was killed in a traffic accident caused by veterinarian Ray Reddy (M. Night Shyamalan). Graham's younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) helps run the family farm in rural Pennsylvania and care for Graham's two children, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin).
A mysterious crop circle is found in the cornfield. Bo wakes Graham up saying that there's a monster outside her bedroom window. Graham looks out the window and sees the silhouette of someone standing on the barn roof. Alarmed, he fetches Merrill and they try to scare away the figure, believing it's Lionel Pritchard, a local prankster. The brothers run screaming around the house to frighten off the intruder.
The next day, Sheriff Caroline Paski (Cherry Jones) stops by to investigate the incident. Their conversation is interrupted by Bo, saying that the TV is reporting numerous crop circles appearing all over the world. The family take a trip into town the following day.
That night, the dog Isabel barks incessantly towards the cornfield. Taking a flashlight, Graham walks into the cornfield and yells that the intruders are "wasting [their] time." As Graham walks back to the house, he hears a noise and spots a thin green leg among the cornrows. He runs back to the house, terrified. Later the family watches the television about reports of several unidentifiable and mysterious lights hovering over Mexico City.
The following morning, Graham receives a cryptic phone call from Ray, the man who killed his wife. Graham goes to see Ray and finds him sitting in his car wearing a bloody shirt. Meanwhile, a frightened Merrill watches news footage capturing the image of an alien at a child's birthday party in Brazil. Ray tells Graham that he is going to the lake, since none of the aliens have been seen near water. Before leaving, Ray pauses to apologize for the accident that killed Colleen and tells Graham that he trapped an alien in his pantry. Investigating, Graham uses a kitchen knife to see the reflection of the alien under the door. A clawed hand reaches out and a startled Graham cuts off two of its fingers.
Back home, Graham gives his family the options to stay at the house or head towards the lake. They vote to stay, not wanting to leave their home. They board up the windows and doors, preparing for any possible attack. Meanwhile, news reports indicate that more mysterious lights have been spotted worldwide and that the aliens are becoming hostile. Merrill suggests that the crop circles are serving as navigation markers.
Graham prepares a "last meal" for the family, with each picking their preferred dish. They are interrupted when they hear Bo's baby monitor, which they had earlier discovered could pick up the aliens' communications, alerting them that the aliens are approaching. They listen as the aliens, seeking a way in, walk around the house. Merrill suddenly realizes that the attic was left unprotected and they quickly move to the basement, barring the door. The aliens can be heard inside the house and try to enter the basement. An alien grabs Morgan from the disused coal chute. It is driven away, but Morgan has an asthma attack. Graham realizes his inhaler was left upstairs, so he calms Morgan, hoping that the boy's breathing would return to normal. The next morning, Morgan's condition has improved and the radio reports that aliens are retreating. They return upstairs but are ambushed by a lone alien, who takes the comatose Morgan hostage. Graham notices two fingers are missing, meaning it was the alien trapped in Ray's pantry.
Graham suddenly remembers the night that Colleen died. She was pinned by a car and Caroline tells Graham that when the car is moved his wife will die. He talks to her and she tells him to let Morgan have fun and be silly, and for Bo to always listen to her brother because he will take care of her. She then tells Graham to "see" and "tell Merrill to swing away."
Graham finally realizes there was a specific, logical meaning to Colleen's final words. Looking around, he sees Merrill's wall-mounted record home run bat. He tells Merrill to "swing away." Merrill understands and grabs the bat. Sensing an attack, the alien sprays a toxin into Morgan's face. Merrill swings at the alien, who then drops Morgan, causing one of Bo's water glasses to spill on it. The water acts like acid on the alien's skin. Merrill then slams the alien into a table containing more unfinished glasses of water. The impact causes all of the liquid to spill directly onto the alien's face and head, and the diabolical creature finally expires.
During the fight, Graham takes Morgan outside and administers an Epi-pen injection to stop the asthma attack. Morgan regains consciousness, his obstructed lungs having saved his life by preventing him from inhaling most of the alien's poison gas. Having realized how an inexplicable series of wildly unlikely coincidences ended up saving all their lives, and that Colleen's final words meant something after all, Graham's faith is restored. A season later, he is shown donning his clerical garb as a vicar just before heading out to his church.
- Mel Gibson as Reverend Graham Hess, a former Episcopal priest, father to Morgan and Bo Hess and brother to Merrill. His wife, Colleen, died in a tragic automobile accident, causing him to lose his faith.
- Joaquin Phoenix as Merrill Hess, Graham's brother, who lives with them. He is a former minor league baseball player.
- Rory Culkin as Morgan Hess, the son of Graham Hess, older brother to sister Bo, and nephew to Merrill.
- Abigail Breslin as Bo Hess, the youngest of the Hess family.
- Cherry Jones as Police Officer Caroline Paski.
- M. Night Shyamalan as Ray Reddy, the man responsible for Colleen's death, for which he feels deeply remorseful.
- Patricia Kalember as Colleen Hess, the deceased wife of Graham. She is only seen in Graham's flashbacks.
All music composed by James Newton Howard.
|Signs: Original Score|
|Soundtrack album by James Newton Howard|
|Released||July 30, 2002|
|Producer||James Newton Howard|
Track listing 
|2.||"First Crop Circles"||3:15|
|5.||"In the Cornfield"||5:40|
|8.||"Throwing a Stone"||5:47|
|9.||"Boarding Up the House"||3:00|
|10.||"Into the Basement"||5:23|
|12.||"The Hand of Fate (Part 1)"||5:32|
|13.||"The Hand of Fate (Part 2)"||3:47|
Critical response 
Signs has received mixed to positive reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 74% gave positive appraisals, based on 225 reviews, ranking it "Certified Fresh". At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film scored a 59, based on 36 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, writing "M. Night Shyamalan's Signs is the work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air. When it is over, we think not how little has been decided, but how much has been experienced ... At the end of the film, I had to smile, recognizing how Shyamalan has essentially ditched a payoff. He knows, as we all sense, that payoffs have grown boring." Nell Minow of Common Sense Media gave the film four out of five stars; she highly praised the casting and Shyamalan's direction, saying his only flaw was not leaving anything to the audience's imagination.
Like all of Shyamalan's work, Signs had many detractors. Tony Medley gave the film one star out of ten, criticising the script and the acting, especially from Breslin and Culkin. Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film one star out of four, feeling that the film had "few thoughts and no thrills." Variety's Todd McCarthy criticised the film for its lack of originality, writing "After the overwrought Unbreakable and now the meager Signs, it's fair to speculate whether Shyamalan's persistence in replicating the otherworldly formula of The Sixth Sense might not be a futile and self-defeating exercise."
In 2004, the film was listed as #77 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the Brazilian birthday party scene.
Box office 
Signs grossed $227,966,634 domestically, $180,281,283 internationally, and $408,247,917 worldwide at the box office, ranking only behind The Sixth Sense in Shyamalan's box office success and grossing more than The Village and Unbreakable.
Home media 
- Flashbacks 1 and 2: Two scenes with Graham's wife, Colleen. In the first, she sits with a toddler Morgan and baby Bo in a rocking chair while Graham watches. In the second, she dances with him. She hums the same tune in both scenes.
- The dead bird: With no sound, this scene shows Graham going back home from Ray's, and after a short time, a dead bird near the road (after supposedly hitting an invisible forcefield) is shown.
- The attic door and the third story: The longest one, it starts with Merrill finding out about the not-boarded attic door. Despite Graham's efforts to call him back, Merrill goes up the stairs and manages to hold the door by climbing up a chair and putting his hands at the door. Trying to help, Graham looks for a way to hold the door. He gets a tall shelf and places it under the door. Knowing this is only a temporary solution, Graham gets his family and takes them to the kitchen and puts some chairs at the door to hold the aliens out of the room. There, he tells the "third story", about Merrill, in which he dislocated his arm. While Graham is telling the story, the shelf is destroyed from the attic door slamming on top of it repeatedly and the aliens gain access to the house. Everyone goes down to the basement, the only safe room available, as the aliens begin forcing the kitchen door open.
See also 
- "Signs (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- Shyamalan, M. Night (Director). (2002). Signs [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures.
- "Signs - Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- 10 of the Most Underrated Horror Scores!. Bloody-Disgusting.com. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Signs Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Signs Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Signs :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Signs - Movie Review". Commonsensemedia.org. 2003-05-18. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "Murder by Numbers". Tonymedley.com. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "'Signs' of distress / Shyamalan's puzzling plot circles go flat quickly". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- McCarthy, Todd (2002-07-29). "Signs Movie Review". Variety. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
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