Signs (film)

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The Signs movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by M. Night Shyamalan
Frank Marshall
Kathleen Kennedy
Sam Mercer
Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Mel Gibson
Joaquin Phoenix
Rory Culkin
Abigail Breslin
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Tak Fujimoto
Edited by Barbara Tulliver
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • August 2, 2002 (2002-08-02)
Running time
107 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $72 million[1]
Box office $408.2 million[1]

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. A joint collective effort to commit to the film's production was made by Blinding Edge Pictures and The Kennedy/Marshall Company. It was commercially distributed by Touchstone Pictures theatrically, and by Touchstone Home Entertainment in home media format.

The story focuses on a former Episcopal priest named Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. Hess slowly becomes convinced that the phenomena are a result of extraterrestrial life. It also stars Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin. Signs explores faith, kinship, and extraterrestrials.[2]

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 positive critical reviews, with critics praising its atmosphere and story but some critics criticizing aspects of the script.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. The original motion picture soundtrack, which was composed by James Newton Howard, was released on the opening day by the Hollywood Records label.


Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), a former priest, lives with his asthmatic son, Morgan (Rory Culkin), his daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin) who leaves glasses of water around the house for no apparent reason, and his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed minor league baseball player, on an isolated farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Hess has lost his faith and gave up his priesthood after his wife, Colleen, died in a traffic accident caused by a town local, Ray Reddy (Shyamalan).

One morning, Graham discovers a crop circle in his field. While investigating the crop circle with the local law enforcement, Graham's son Morgan is forced kill one of the family dogs when it turns violent against him and Bo. Graham then learns of animals becoming violent across town. They hear reports of crop circles appearing around the globe, and there reports of strange lights over Mexico. Later, Graham and Merrill find the farm is being watched by a tall dark figure which disappears into the fields when they give chase. The next day, they hear strange noised over a baby monitor, but cannot find its source. Graham approaches the crop circle but on seeing a green leg sticking out of the cornrows, flees back to the house.

After opening up to Merrill about the death of his wife, noting that her last words were "tell Merrill to swing away", Graham goes to visit Ray, the first time since the incident. When Graham is gone, Merrill and the children watch a news report about footage taken of an alien creature in Brazil, showing that the aliens can blend into their surroundings. Merrill joins the children in wearing Tin foil hats, believing the aliens can read their minds. At Ray's, Graham finds Ray is bleeding from an injury but otherwise apologetic for the accident. After Graham accepts his apology, Ray departs for a nearby lake, saying "they" don't like water. Graham finds Ray has trapped one of the aliens in his pantry, and tries to see what the alien looks like using a kitchen knife under the door; the alien grabs at him, and Graham reacts by cutting off its fingers before fleeing. On his return, and hearing news that more lights have been seen across the globe, the Hess family decides to stay at their house instead of leaving for the lake, barricading the doors and windows.

They hear the same noises on the baby monitor before their television signal drops out, and take shelter in their living room. When they hear noises from the attic, believing the alien has infiltrated their home, the family locks themselves in the basement, trying to stay quiet. However, Morgan suffers an asthma attack, luring the alien to them. They are able to ward it off. By morning, radio reports claim that the aliens have left Earth as suddenly as they arrived. Graham leaves the basement to locate Morgan's asthma inhaler, the others following him. They discover the alien, the same that Graham had attacked in Ray's home, is still there. The alien grabs Morgan and attempts to poison him by making him breath a toxin from its body, but because of his asthma attack, Morgan does not succumb to it. Colleen's last words come back to Graham, and he instructs Merrill to "swing away" with a baseball bat. Merrill severely injures the alien, who drops Morgan while in pain . It falls onto the ground, knocking over one of the glasses of water Bo had left and splashing it with water. The water reacts like acid on its skin, making it scream in agony. Merrill strikes the alien against furniture where it is doused with water full on its face, and dies. Graham helps Morgan with his medication to stop the attack.

Some time later, the Hess family has recovered from the incident and they appear to be doing much better than before. In the final scene, Graham is shown returning to his priestly duties, apparently having regained his faith.


  • Mel Gibson as Father Graham Hess, a former Episcopal priest, older brother to Merrill and father of Morgan and Bo
  • Joaquin Phoenix as Merrill Hess, Graham's younger brother and uncle of Morgan and Bo, 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 daughter of Graham Hess, Morgan's younger sister, and niece to Merrill. 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, mother of Morgan and Bo and Merrill's sister-in-law. She is seen only in Graham's flashbacks.
  • Ted Sutton as SFC Cunningham, an Army recruiter



Main article: Signs (soundtrack)

All music composed by James Newton Howard.[3]

Signs: Original Score
Soundtrack album by James Newton Howard
Released July 30, 2002
Length 45:29
Label Hollywood
Producer James Newton Howard

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Main Titles"   1:45
2. "First Crop Circles"   3:15
3. "Roof Intruder"   2:20
4. "Brazilian Video"   1:56
5. "In the Cornfield"   5:40
6. "Baby Monitor"   1:07
7. "Recruiting Office"   2:07
8. "Throwing a Stone"   5:47
9. "Boarding Up the House"   3:00
10. "Into the Basement"   5:23
11. "Asthma Attack"   3:42
12. "The Hand of Fate (Part 1)"   5:32
13. "The Hand of Fate (Part 2)"   3:47


Critical response[edit]

Signs has received positive reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 74% gave positive appraisals, based on 225 reviews, ranking it "Certified Fresh".[4] 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".[5]

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."[6] 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.[7]

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."[8] 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."[9]

In 2004, the film was listed as No. 77 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the Brazilian birthday party scene.

Box office[edit]

Signs grossed $227,966,634 domestically, $180,281,283 internationally, and $408,247,917 worldwide[1] 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[edit]

On the DVD, there are some deleted scenes:

  • 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[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Signs (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  2. ^ Shyamalan, M. Night (Director). (2002). Signs [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures.
  3. ^ 10 of the Most Underrated Horror Scores!. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  4. ^ "Signs Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Signs Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Signs :: :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. 2002-08-02. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  7. ^ "Signs - Movie Review". 2003-05-18. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  8. ^ Lasalle, Mick (2002-08-02). "'Signs' of distress / Shyamalan's puzzling plot circles go flat quickly". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Todd (2002-07-29). "Signs Movie Review". Variety. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 

External links[edit]