Now I consider a good chunk of M. Night Shyamalan’s films to be average at best. I mean, this is the man that gave us the crappy Avatar film (which I will never forgive him for).
However, I do believe his best films started with The Sixth Sense (1999), and Unbreakable (2000), and ended with Signs (2002). Everything else kind of fell short in the storytelling and acting department.
(Warning, this will contain spoilers after this point!)
Signs is honestly one of my favorite Alien UFO films of all time, despite some of the heavy criticism that it received.
Our film starts with Graham Hess (Played by Mel Gibson), a former minister, who lives with his two young children, Bo and Morgan, and his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix). Morgan is asthmatic while Bo leaves random cups of water around the house for a plethora of reasons such as being contaminated. They all reside in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Graham was once a man of faith who lost it due to the death of his wife, Colleen by the town’s vet, Ray Reddy who fell asleep behind the wheel.
One morning Graham discovers a large crop circle in his cornfield. Reporting this to the police, he learns of things taking a strange turn. Animals have started to become violent, such as dogs. Morgan kills one of their German Shepherds who became violent against his sister.
(And yes, as someone who has done farm work, I understand reporting a prank like that to the cops. Crops cost money!)
News begins to roll in about strange reports of lights over Mexico (why do aliens always go to Mexico and the south?). Bo comes to Graham one night for a cup of water because of the monster outside the window. We then see a tall figure outside. After running around the house yelling, the figure disappears into the cornfield.
One of my favorite scenes is up next involving them hearing a series of clicking (alien conversation) over an old baby monitor. Graham then encounters a figure in the cornrows.
After visiting Ray, who was apologetic about the accident and injured, notes that “they” don’t like water. He has trapped an alien in the pantry while noting they eat vegetables. Graham attempts to impersonate a police officer while using a kitchen knife to see under the door. A hand reaches out from underneath with three fingers and a thumb, in which two of which get sliced off.
The Hess family decides to bunker down in their home as an alien invasion starts around the globe. They have an emotional dinner scene (which is honestly one of my favorite film scenes) and hear the baby monitor going off. They realize they secured everything but the attic door. They retreat to the basement only to have an alien attempt to assault them through an old coal shoot. Morgan starts to have an asthma attack. They go back upstairs after hearing reports of the aliens fleeing earth.
There’s that pesky alien again, pissed about its fingers being chopped off, and holds Morgan hostage.
Colleen’s last words flash back to Graham, and he instructs Merrill to Swing away with his prized baseball bat. Merrill attacks the alien but while doing so the alien attempts to poison Morgan. Merrill continues his assault only to realize that one thing harms the Alien:
Water. More specifically the cups Bo left lying around.
(I’ll get to my reasoning why this isn’t a full plot hole in a bit)
Merrill continues to assault the alien with the water and wooden bat. It dies after several glasses of water pour on its face. Morgan gets his medicine. The end scene shows us a Graham that has regained his faith and returned to his priest duties.
Now that was just a condensed plot.
Let’s talk about some of my theories
There’s a scene in the film where Morgan has a book about UFOs he gets from the bookstore. The book states that if aliens were to invade, they would probably do it for earth’s resources along with using ground tactics. The book also states that they wouldn’t use their technology because we would simply escalate to nuclear weapons.
I fully believe this to be solid reasoning. First, if they’re coming to earth it’s probably for terraforming or resources. We would most definitely use nukes, rather than let them take over the planet. Humanity would scorch the earth and the planet and then let that happen. Hell, we’ve done it to our people.
So, they sacrifice a few members. Granted, I always find it funny that other alien races invade but don’t investigate the fact humans have a long and violent history. Quite literally space orcs. Look what we do to our species, now picture that energy on a combined front against aliens.
I also like the two options the book tells us. They lose and return a thousand years later (in which humanity most likely would still be prepared) or they win.
(Fun fact #1: The book illustrations were drawn by Shyamalan’s daughter.)
The aliens we see aren’t the actual aliens behind the invasion. I believe it’s invasion by proxy, which would explain why they would be armorless in an environment they’re weak in.
I believe they might even be a prison/slave race used to fight this battle.
The weakness of water can make sense.
Earth is a fair planet to want to invade. We are comfy in our habitual zone, but earth may also be an extremely rare occurrence that other species may not have encountered before.
I believe that the proxy aliens come from a SIMILAR environment that could just have less water on their planet. They don’t seem phased by breathing in our air, which is made of plenty of water molecules. But why no armor?
The same reason why humans still do dumb shit in space without the proper safety measures that they don’t fully have in place (Sun particles are deadly). Therefore I believe they would come to a planet that’s roughly 70% water.
We don’t know much about their anatomy, so they may not have the cell membrane needed to be in a water-heavy environment.
We’re only safe from our watery planet due to our skin!
The water isn’t the problem but what’s in the water is. What’s the possibility that it contains fluoride or other minerals that could cause a reaction?
They’re not aliens but demons!
So, in the film, it states that three holy cities in the Middle East managed to fight off the invasion well.
Also, Graham blessed all the water in the house for Bo, making it holy water.
I like this theory, but I don’t fully buy into it.
The Alien Design
I’m not going to lie; this design scared the crap out of me as a kid. Just how they moved and looked freaked me out. Granted, due to the time of the film, the CGI is showing its age.
The alien is humanoid with both 2 arms and legs. The feet have three toes and one that resembles a dew claw. It stands around six to seven feet tall. It has thick green skills that can camouflage into the environment. Its figure is slender but still retains a muscular build. It has the typically reptilian vibe to it but with the eyes of a gray alien. The head is rather large and supported by a spine, which shows some evolutionary intelligence.
I also noticed that it does not walk on the flats of its feet but the balls.
In the arm runs down a retractable tube that can emit poison spray.
I honestly believe this is one of the best alien designs on the market. It’s spooky, effective, and remains believable with biology.
This movie got me as a kid
I watched this movie when I was six and it stuck with me ever since.
I used to spend weekends at my aunt’s farm in Maine. It looked similar to how the farm in the movie was designed. Big cornfields and everything. I often had nightmares about looking out into the fields and having one of the aliens staring right back at me or having it pop out somewhere near the barn.
The birthday party scene was one of the scenes that is a core memory for me. I had a physical reaction to that scene and jumped when I saw it.
I honestly dislike the hate that this film gets. Not only is it a solid film about aliens, but it’s also a decent faith film. It doesn’t feel dominated by religious tones even though it is heavily referenced. The family connection is sweet as well. Merrill quite literally gives up any career he had in sports to help his brother and kids. He also beats the ever-living shit out of the alien with his prized baseball bat as well. The dinner scene gets me every single time I watch it.
I may dislike Mel Gibson as a person, but boy can he cry when needed.
I honestly give this film an 8/10 for the records.
My only problem was the dogs died. Why? Like I get the dogs wouldn’t survive but them forgetting to lock up Isabella was just dirty.
I hope you found this post enjoyable. Have any questions or opinions? If so share them in the comments.
Happy Thursday everyone!