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Signs

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 26 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 106 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. 

Violence

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. 

Sex
Language

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

Consumerism
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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjcmcdowell January 12, 2020

Big Time Epic Fail!!!

This movie sucks! I hated it! I am a big fan of horror movies, and I was excited to see some really good suspense in this movie with aliens and cornfields (the... Continue reading
Adult Written byUgzilla December 23, 2019

Intense movie about faith, tragic loss, perseverance... and aliens

Shyamalan spells things out a bit too much for my taste as an adult, however that very quality makes this movie accessible for younger audiences.
Very mature... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byanimateddisneyfan May 24, 2015

thumbs down

I did not like this movie! it was too scary and emotional. I would not recommend this movie to somewhat sensitive kids.
Teen, 15 years old Written byFlowers4You October 27, 2015

A Fine Fictional Flick

This is a really good movie. It's a sci-fI alien movie about a family (The Hess family—Bo, who I think is 5-7, Morgan, who seems about twelve or thirteen,... 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

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