the fresh films reviews

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Signs (2002)

Directed by:
M. Night Shyamalan

United States

Science Fiction/Thriller


106 minutes

Produced by:
Kathleen Kennedy
Frank Marshall
Sam Mercer
M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:
M. Night Shyamalan

Cast includes:

Father Graham Hess Mel Gibson
Merrill Hess Joaquin Phoenix
Officer Caroline Paski Cherry Jones
Morgan Hess Rory Culkin
Bo Hess Abigail Breslin
Colleen Hess Patricia Kalember -
Ray Reddy M. Night Shyamalan



M. Night Shyamalan, the new master of cinematic enigmas, once again weaves a tapestry of thought and emotion in his latest feature, named Signs a suspense movie far removed from the cheap thrills that has become characteristic of contemporary horror. Instead, Shyamalan explores the power of the unseen and creates an alien horror flick which transcends the superficial, delving into the psyche of a man grappling with faith, love, and the primal fear of the unknown.

Signs unfolds on two levels, skilfully orchestrated by a director at the peak of his prowess. On one level, we witness the psychological unraveling of a man facing a crisis of faith, navigating the labyrinth of his inner demons. His resurgence of motivation to live, love, and believe becomes a poignant focal point, lifting the film beyond the realms of mere horror. On another, we are enclosed in an intimate encounter with fear and the unknown, meticulously built-up and disclosed by Shyamalan.

Shyamalan's brilliance lies not in explicit imagery but in the artful manipulation of suspense and psychological tension. Signs pays homage to the thematic depth of classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind while at the same time succeeding in creating a palpable horror feel. The absence of explicit visuals is of course a deliberate choice which exploits our imagination to conjure our own images of terror. And the film's climax, contrary to convention, is revealed to be a necessary piece in Shyamalan's psychological puzzle, reinforcing his status as one of cinema's most prodigious talents at present.

Copyright 13.10.2002 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
(English version: 04.02.2024 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang)