Signs Movie Poster Image




Suspenseful Shyamalan movie has extreme tension and peril.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Themes concerning fate, coincidence, faith versus doubt. 

Positive role models

Characters struggle to understand why things happen and what they mean on both a personal level and in the bigger picture; a former minister struggles with his faith after the death of his wife by a tragic and horrible car accident. 


Frequent suspenseful scenes. A young boy is forced to kill one of his family's dogs with a barbeque poker after it turns violent. A dying woman is pinned to a tree by a car that hit her. A man fights an alien with a baseball bat. News footage shows children screaming when they spot what appears to be an alien walking down their street. Demonic alien imagery and sound effects. 

Not applicable

Occasional profanity: "bitch," "ass," s--t," "crap," bulls--t," "piss." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarette smoking. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Signs is a 2002 suspense movie in which a man who has given up being a minister in the wake of the tragic car accident that took his wife must come to grips with his faith as he and his family try to make sense of what appears to be an impending alien invasion. There is some violence -- a boy must kill one of his family's dogs after it turns violent, a man must fight an alien with a baseball bat. There is also demonic alien imagery and sound effects that happen more often as the story builds to its climax. Throughout, there is extreme tension and peril; while it's not graphic nor gory, some viewers will find it very scary. There is also some profanity throughout: "bitch," "ass," "s--t," "crap," "bulls--t," "piss." Some will be comforted by the movie's ultimate conclusion, but others will find it disappointing, even sugary or superficial.

What's the story?

Writer/producer/director M. Night Shyamalan's SIGNS is a story of a crisis of faith, a wise child, and something out there that is very, very disturbing but ultimately part of a pattern that supports and embraces all of us. Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a recent widower who lives with his two children and his brother (Joaquin Phoenix) on a farm in Pennsylvania. He was a minister but lost his faith when his wife was killed. He wakes up one night with a sense of dread. His children are not in bed. He runs out into the cornfield and his children show him that the stalks have been bent into a mysterious pattern. It can't have been made by a machine, because the stalks are not broken. And it can't have been done by hand, because the shapes are too perfectly even. It turns out that the strange signs have appeared all over the world. Graham wants to believe that the shapes are a prank or a hoax. He cannot bear the thought that his family could be vulnerable to more injury or loss.

Is it any good?


Signs is excellent but may be too intense for younger or more sensitive kids. Gibson is outstanding in a role that calls for subtlety, maturity, and a mixture of vulnerability and strength. The children, played by Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin, are just right. They act like smart kids who know what loss is and are scared but also tantalized by what is going on around them.

Shyamalan's use of the camera to tell the story is masterful. There is a moment when the screen goes completely black that will have viewers gasping. Shyamalan was clearly paying attention to Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg and has a few tricks of his own to contribute. His only mistake is in leaving too little to the imagination. Like his characters, he likes to have everything explained.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether they see patterns and purpose in what occurs around them and what it means to them. Where do people find their faith?

  • How was this movie suspenseful? How do music, camera angles, and sound effects heighten the tension? What if these elements weren't used to the degree that they were used in this movie? Would it be as intense?

  • This was a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan, a director with his own distinct style. What are some aspects of his style? Who are some other directors with distinct filmmaking styles? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 2, 2002
DVD/Streaming release date:January 7, 2003
Cast:Joaquin Phoenix, Mel Gibson, Rory Culkin
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Studio:Touchstone Pictures
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Space and aliens
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:scariness

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Kid, 10 years old October 5, 2010

good but scary

extremely good movie but still very scary
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byRivern September 30, 2010

Suspenseful Alien Flick

Mel Gibson has always been somewhat of an acting idol to me, and he fails to disappoint me in this movie. The fact that he made the father seem so real amazes me -- not many actors could pull off his part as beautifully as he did. However, Gibson isn't the only genius in this work of art. Shyamalan has created a strangely touching alien flick in which I thought to be virtually impossible. Brilliantly portrayed through series of brilliant actors, he has really outdone himself this time with the release of Signs. Both smart and intriguing, this must be the best of all movies relating to extra terrestrials I have ever seen. The scariest asset of all in this movie is the unknown; you can never quite tell what is around the corner and what it's all about, making it a most enjoyable experience. A message to parents: This isn't violent or as bad as some younger children around here are trying to tell you it is; most are not allowed to see anything above this age level and are trying to seem cool. The language is moderately coarse, yet it never gets out of hand. It's nothing your child/children don't hear in public or at school. This may give your child/children nightmares or scare them, so I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under eleven or twelve, as there are a few disturbing scenes such as two kids finding the corpse of a dog with a grill fork lodged in its neck. (not bloody or too disturbing) A message to kids: If you are sensitive to death or have had certain horrors in your past such as witnessing someone you love die or are frightened by many things, I would recommend waiting until you are older to view this film. It will not give you comfort and it will not bring warmth to you, only an odd feeling of insecurity and suspense. Suggested MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Language, Thematic Elements, Scary Situations and Some Disturbing Images.
Parent of a 9 and 12 year old Written byheather.parker December 13, 2010

Waiting till they're older

I thought this was a great movie, but a little scary for kids.


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