Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks


Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Signs Movie Poster Image
Suspenseful Shyamalan movie has extreme tension and peril.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 106 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 100 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes concerning fate, coincidence, faith versus doubt. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

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. 


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. 

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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.
Adult Written byTracyeMay August 14, 2010

Very suspenseful. Supernatural. Sci fi

Disturbing plot. Scary. Don't see any real violence, other than the dog being stabbed. Just very very suspenseful. Characters do jump out. My favorite M Ni... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old October 5, 2010

good but scary

extremely good movie but still very scary
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 m... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love thrills and chills

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate