Greetings, Glancers! I’m confused; I know M. Night Shyamalan is a bit of a meme – his movies are typically horror, they typically have a twist, his career has gone down the shitter multiple times due to some apparently awful films and decisions. I’m confused because I’d always believed that Signs was one of the movies he made before he became the meme, before his career went down the shitter only to bounce back with Split. I knew The Sixth Sense was both a major commercial and critical success – I liked it. I knew Unbreakable was more of a sleeper success – I love it. I believed Signs was seen as a return to horror and was generally better received than Unbreakable, and that many people had heralded it for its scares, for devastating emotional beats and an unnerving atmosphere. But I’m confused; It’s…. it’s clearly, clearly a comedy, right? This is absolutely, 100% not a Horror movie. It can’t be. Can it?
As of 2021, I had never seen Signs. As of 2022, I now have. I had already seen The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable at release. I saw Split when it came out. I saw The Happening a couple of years after its release. I’ve seen The Visit. I have not yet seen The Village, The Lady In The Lake, Glass, or Old. Or After Earth. Signs was free on streaming, so I thought I would plug that gap and at the very least enjoy an alien movie with hopefully a few chills, maybe a couple of good scares. Instead what I got was basically a precursor to The Happening – a movie rightly ripped for its weird tone, camp performances, and lack of horror. Look, I enjoyed The Happening. It was clear it was a nonsense – that was clearly the point. Signs is clearly too trying to be a joke, but for whatever reason critics and fans have entirely missed this and somehow believe it is a straight Sci Fi Horror for reasons I am entirely unable to fathom.
So I cam in expecting a horror, but instead I got nonsensical asides to faith and believe, a twist which amounts to ‘ah ha! God set all this up all along’ while ignoring the logical extrapolation that suggest such a God must be a psychotic maniac to kill your wife, make you lose your faith, have a clearly troubling relationship with the remainder of your family, launch an alien invasion, make your son a future right wing conspiracy theorist nutbag, make your daughter have undiagnosed psychological trauma highlighted by a fear of germs – setting up all of these things in order just so a preacher can regain the faith which you caused him to lose in the first place? What. The. Fuck.
Beyond that nonsense, beyond the horrible CG, beyond the bizarre comedy tone and dialogue and camera panning, beyond the hammy performances, it’s simply not scary. There’s a famous jump scare which is basically a piece of found footage. The scare happened – I was unaware and thought the actual scare was leading up to a genuine unexpected jump scare – and the movie went on. The scare amounts to an alien walking past a bush. I assumed something cool was going to happen, like that was the set up scare, something like the kids scream after seeing the alien, turn around to run away and the same alien is standing in the room with them. A light scare followed by a biggie. No…. no, that was the biggie. And that’s the whole movie. There’s a bit with a shadow on a roof, a bit with clicky noises in the corn fields, a bit with a hand under a door, in a basement, reflection on a TV, but these were equally non eventual. It’s not that I am trying to make a point that this scary movie didn’t scare me – I’m a horror fan and I love to be scared. I simply, genuinely do not see how any of this can claimed to be scary, how the movie can be claimed to be anything other than a parody. It’s not a film about God, or family, or grief, or guilt. It’s a joke. It is, without a doubt, a comedy – a Shyamalan experiment to see how gullible the audience is. Unfortunately, the conclusion of that experiment was already written in the stars and there is no twist ending – you are gullible. You fell for it.
Let us know what you think of Signs in the comments!