M. Night Shyamalan’s SIGNS Still Shines 20 Years On

Released 20 years ago in 2002, M.Night Shyamalan‘s Signs is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller about a low-key alien invasion. Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds was clearly an inspiration for the writer-director. Dripping with fear of the unknown and an unnerving sense of paranoia – the film is very insular, focusing on a family in lock-down keeping themselves isolated from the world as they watch events unfold on television. 

Signs is notable for it’s wonderful James Newton Howard score, which is heavily indebted to the work of the great Bernard Herrmann.

One of the things which makes Signs work is the outstanding chemistry between Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Shyamalan knows how to tease-out precise performances from actors (see Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) and I think that Gibson gives does some career-best work in the movie. He has never been better. Same for Phoenix, an actor who can often come across as emotionally cool on screen. 

Signs grossed over $227 million at the US box office and more than and $180 million internationally for a $408 million global total.