Remains my favorite Shyamalan film - to me, it's the perfect display of his ability as a storyteller to really create atmosphere. The plot may not advance much, but the sense of foreboding continues to ratchet up. And while most seem to hate the ending, the whole thing works for me.
For a part of it, an appealingly directed SF horror with a taste for Stephen King kind of suspense. For another part, an overwhelming examination of small town paranoia opposed to media sensationalism in a New age Godless society. Or so I gathered. Because somewhere in there the whole symbolism gets out of focus, bothered by Spielberg-like unnecessary need for child heroes, ending with excessive banality.
It's crazy to think that Signs came out less than a year after September 11th 2001, as it gives a great picture of terror in the new age of information. The family, isolated in the middle of the country, only has a small television set as a link to the outside world, believing both everything and nothing at the same time. We watch the end of the world on live television, in the confort of our living room.
That scene when Joaquin Phoenix sits in the closet, watching the alien being caught on TV scared me shitless, classic stuff. Fantastic mood setting, last third is nervewrecking. I know the ending feels kind of cheap, but the paranoia and tension built throughout are fantastic. If I lived in a house near Varginha I'd never sleep soundly again after watching this.
2.5. I see some impassioned defenses of this movie and I sort of see where they are coming from. I think there's a lot of heavy handed allegory but I get why people like it conceptually. There's some scenes that work exceptionally well, but it's really a sloppy movie overall. And the kids are unbearable.
Definitely one of the best from Shyamalan's career full of decent highs and horrible lows. A quirky, campy effort with a great cast that has some real tense atmosphere until the final act (as it always goes with this director). Honestly, even the first few times the aliens are revealed it doesn't lose it's charm - it's after the painfully dull climax in the living room where we get about 40 looks at the thing.