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‘Signs’ Was Released 14 Years Ago Today

Signs 14th Anniversary

At the turn of the century, there was no director who was more popular than M. Night Shyamalan. After directing the Rosie O’Donnell film Wide Awake in 1998, he unleashed The Sixth Sense upon the world in 1999. That film is regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, and that is mostly thanks to the twist ending. This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t stand up on its own apart from the twist. It absolutely does, but the consensus is that the twist is the most memorable thing about the movie. The success of that film would be both a blessing and a curse for Shyamalan, who set incredibly high expectations for all of his subsequent films.

After the enormous success of The Sixth Sense, Shymalan wrote and directed the Bruce Willis/Samuel L. Jackson superhero movie Unbreakable. While critical reaction was mostly positive, audience reception was lukewarm at best. The film has since gained a rather sizable cult following, but in 2000 it was considered a creative disappointment despite earning back over three times its budget.

Two years later, Shyamalan returned with Signs, starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix and a very young Abigail Breslin and Rory Culkin. Released 14 years ago today, Signs had a lot of buzz leading up to it’s premiere. It wouldn’t be until after Lady in the Water when Shyamalan truly started to become the butt of every joke in Hollywood. Signs received critical acclaim (it’s his second best-reviewed film), with many praising it for it’s buildup and level of suspense while criticizing its payoff.

The payoff, of course, is the half-assed attempt at a twist during the film’s climax. As many of you probably already know, the aliens who are attempting to take over the world have a severe allergy to water, an element that makes up 71% of the earth’s surface. It certainly makes them seem a lot less intelligent than you would think they would be. As misguided as that twist was, the rest of the film does hold up. It is also home to one of the greatest jump scares in cinema history. If there is one thing to be said for Signs, it’s that it shows the “less is more” approach can work wonders for a film. There are hardly any jump scares in the film, which is why the alien’s reveal is so effective.

The film also boasts strong performances from the entire cast. Mel Gibson is good, but the film belongs to Phoenix. Early career performances from Culkin and Breslin are also impressive. One thing that Shymalan has always excelled at is injecting a brooding atmosphere into his films. Even trash like The Happening does a pretty decent job at creating an atmosphere for its killer plant world.

Made on a budget of $72 million ($3 million less than that of Unbreakable), Signs was a huge success. It grossed $227.9 million domestically and $180.2 million internationally for a worldwide total of $408.2 million. While the opinion on the film has cooled in the 14 years since its release, it is still notable for being Shyamalan’s second highest grossing film after The Sixth Sense.

I remember seeing Signs with my uncle when on one of my annual summer trips to visit my grandparents (I was 13). I thought it was fine at the time but it’s one of those movies where I like it a little bit more each time I watch it. What are your thoughts on Signs? Do you think it’s Shyamalan’s last good film (I was a huge fan of The Visit, which proved to be equally as divisive)? Or are you not a fan? Share your thoughts and memories on the film in the comments below!



  • DrewHamster

    My thoughts of the film are pretty much summed up at the end of the third paragraph. The film is so suspenseful and well made and I do like what Shyamalan was going for with everything having a purpose, but the water thing is just so stupid it keeps me from loving it. I mean if they can’t come into contact with water than the film just doesn’t work because there would have definitely been dew in the corn fields or something else. I don’t hate it, like you said the jump scare you linked above is great filmmaking, but the water thing just holds it back.

  • CreepShowTwo

    And….my bowels were released 14 minutes ago,today. Ironic that this movie and my personal journey on the toilet coincided.

    • Vincent Kane

      Squeeze away Creep. Creep…squeeze away.

      • CreepShowTwo

        This is what i had last night, i mean its this movie in a bag of chips as well. Aliens come to take our resources, on a planet consisting of their kryptonite…smh and the planets more than mainly made of it.. I guess thats a shamalamadingdong twist for ya.

        • LMAO!!! Good stuff!! X-D

          • CreepShowTwo

            Jew right about one thing, Jew know a good joke. But do jew know Reed? Hes a gramar nazi and a know it all…worst type of humorless SJW. Be careful out here, he wont jew you right. Lol

  • Rick Walz

    One of my favorites. So I will get defensive here.

    Don’t we send people to horribly dangerous places just for resources we deem valuable? Mines are dangerous and we should not be there. Yet we send people for the diamonds, zinc, salt, etc.

    The movie made it clear that they had no intention of staying. They were not invading, they were harvesting. Perhaps the kidneys of humans are delicious and some other space faring race hires these idiots to gather them. Maybe enzymes from our adrenal gland fuel their space machines.

    These are the harvesters, not the brains behind the operation.

    • BCTalk

      This, the film also says they have likely been travelling for 1000s of years. So while not an ideal stop maybe our planet it the only remotely habitable spot they have come across in a long time.
      Like when you are driving to Bundaberg and you don’t want to stop at the rapey looking fuel stop, but you really need a piss and a sandwich.
      And yes, 70 % of the Earth is covered in water. Which leaves 30% that isn’t. Which is a lot. Guess what, we don’t live in the water either, but we managed to find enough dry land to become the dominant species on the planet.

  • Creepshow

    I friggin love this movie, it is such an emotional piece. Mel plays such a tortured soul, all while trying to stay strong for others. Even in real life, I always think back to the main message in this film, which is “everything happens for a reason.” In the film you start with Mel’s wife’s dying words “tell Merrill to swing away.” Then you go to the girl leaving half filled water glasses everywhere, then to the boy having asthma, and lastly to Merrill’s home run bat on the wall. All those things happened for a reason, and they all saved their lives. I was tense as fuck watching this in the theaters.

    • Mightygil

      well said Creepshow. Signs remains one of my all-time favourites

      • Creepshow

        Thank you, friend. Some people can relate with the pain and emotion on the screen, while everyone else is just watching a movie.

  • Vincent Kane

    And it’s still lame and boring…

  • Never got the whole twist makes the aliens look dumb angle. The greatest alien invasion story of all time – War of the Worlds had a similar twist one could argue. That of bacteria saving the day. Didn’t make our Mars invaders look dumb.

  • Satanzilla

    I like the movie too, although I disagree with just about every detail of your evaluation.

    Let’s just agree to disagree on that.

    But please…

    “leading up to it’s premiere.”

    No, “leading up to its premiere.”

    “It’s” with the apostrophe ALWAYS means “it is.” Never use “it’s” unless you could replace it with “it is.”

    “Leading up to it is premiere.” No.

  • Trent

    Wow. Last year it was 13 years ago. And next year, it’ll be 15 years ago. Wow. This is amazing.

  • BenPR

    It’s a case of the religious subtext biting itself on the ass. The film is really about a man, formerly of faith, who must accept his god’s plan for him despite his anger and grief, and thus regain his faith. Everything that happens in the film happens for a reason, the same way religious people see the world. With this in mind one could easily equate the aliens as representative of demonic forces (also part of god’s plan). The water the little girl leaves about for a reason she can’t conceive is blessed by the father’s re-emerging faith, becomes holy, and therefore burns the demonic forces, in the same way holy water is used to expel demons. The film is filed with religious stuff like this, obscured by the science fiction element. The big mistake Mr Shyamalan made was not so much the stupid aliens, but to assume audiences would ‘get it’.

  • ScabieBaby

    Laughable film.

  • This movie is a BIG GIANT TURD, and here is why. It’s not because the aliens are stupid, it’s because the writers are stupid. Here are the cold hard facts of life in the Universe, and that is where there is water there is possibility for life. Life itself begins with and/or in WATER, and the human body itself is 90+% water. —-> The ‘twist’ that these aliens are allergic to water is literally against ALL COMMON SENSE AND PRACTICAL LOGIC. Dudes and dudettes, life and water are synonymous. What are these water allergic aliens going to do, go to all the bone dry planets?? Well, then there will be NO LIFEFORMS there to exploit!! It literally goes against all the laws of physics and the Universe for aliens to be hurt by water. —-> NOW, I know there are plenty of you that want to ignore all common sense and logic and just believe that these aliens are allergic to water. Well, that itself presents some real problems. How are these aliens supposed to capture us when all we could do is SPIT or BREATHE on them to hurt and/or kill them. After all, even our breath has moisture in it, and our spit is watery enough to hurt them as well. How are these aliens going to capture humans now when all it takes is a LOOGIE to stop them?? Not exactly intimidating foes when all it takes is heavy breathing and some monster spitballs to stop them. IT IS UTTERLY FUCKING RIDICULOUS ANY WAY YOU WANT TO BREAK IT DOWN PEOPLE. STOP DEFENDING YOUR IGNORANCE AND STOP DEFENDING THIS RIDICULOUS MOVIE.

    • Gilles Ronconi

      We could also pee on them 😉

      • Why not? We also could all walk around with water sprayers and pretend we are training space cats to get potty trained. BAD KITTY *squirts with water*… <-D

    • Mightygil

      aaaaaaand that`s why they didn`t capture anybody

  • Angelis La Vantae

    someone needs a cuddle.

  • Mightygil

    Although I haven`t seen it in years I think this is a great film and Night always seems to get far too much flack for what he does. Yes, some stuff he`s released has been pretty bad but he is one of the very very few people trying to bring original film material to the mainstream and I thank him for that

    • Creepshow

      M. Night got labeled by Hollywood and moviegoers. The guy pulled the rug out from people with some of his films. Nobody…can continuously pull that off. And the fact that he didn’t, pissed people off. But the guy has talent, and he tells good stories. And I’m glad he’s dusting himself off to continue doing it!

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