| Home| About Us | Soap Box | Fun Stuff | Trailer Links  |

Inside Derf
Current reviews


Guilty Pleasures


I just know I left the keys here somewhere."


Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Written by: M. Night Shyamalan

Main Cast:

Mel Gibson .... Father Graham Hess
Joaquin Phoenix .... Merrill Hess
Cherry Jones .... Officer Caroline Paski
Rory Culkin .... Morgan Hess
Abigail Breslin .... Bo Hess
Patricia Kalember .... Colleen Hess
M. Night Shyamalan .... Ray Reddy, D.V.M.
Ted Sutton .... SFC Cunningham
Merritt Wever .... Tracey Abernathy
Lanny Flaherty .... Mr. Nathan
Marion McCorry .... Mrs. Nathan

Rated PG-13  

“There's no one watching out for us Merrill. We are all on our own.” 

To sum up: Graffiti's such a bad thing. It's usually a slapdash of symbols, defaces public property, and in the case of Mel Gibson, it messes up a perfectly good cornfield. 

     M. Night Shyamalan, the creative force behind the hugely successful movie "The Sixth Sense" (which I loved) ventures forth into the spooky zone once again with his latest "Signs".

     The central issue of this film is about faith in God. Now, faith in God is a difficult thing. It's belief in a higher power; something that can't necessarily be seen or measured. It's asking you to walk in the path of righteousness, set by God. That's easy when things are going well, very hard when they aren't. It's faith during the bad times that is the central focus of this film.

     It stars Mel Gibson as a former minister who has lost his faith in God due to the recent death of his wife. Guess he didn't read enough of the book of Job. For the uninformed, Job is a book in the Bible, specifically, the Old Testament. For the really uninformed, the Bible is a book that deals with God and religion and if you own one, it's probably that black covered book in the corner with all the dust on it. 

     Mel Gibson is one of my favorite actors. He can tackle almost any type of film from the silly comedy to Shakespeare and be charming and likeable throughout, even when he plays a "bad guy" as in the film "Payback". As an actor, you can see that he is drawn to characters that lose a loved one. With titles such as "The Road Warrior", "Lethal Weapon", "Braveheart", "Ransom", "The Patriot", and now this film, he's explored several variations of this theme.

     Well, one day he wakes up and discovered that someone or "something" has made a big geometric dent in his cornfield. Soon these crop-circles are appearing all over the world in vast numbers. 18 circles appear in India in just 72 Hours. Lights appear in the sky in 274 cities within 1 mile of the crop-circles. Is it all just a practical joke or are aliens making themselves known to the world?

      It's a good premise. If only the execution of the mystery was performed to a satisfactory level. It is a certainty that Shyamalan, the director, is capable of effectively giving the butterflies. He uses the jump cuts to shadowy figures, the barest hint of arms or legs, and the sudden shriek or bang on the surround sound to great affect. He is also aware that less is more. One of the successes of "Jaws" and "Alien", for example, is that the shark and alien weren't revealed all at once. You got a glimpse here and another glimpse there as the films progressed and it drew you in and kept the mystery going until the end of those films. Shyamalan knows this and doesn't play all of his cards at once in revealing the nature of the threat (yes, there is a threat). That is until one crucial moment when, frustratingly, he backtracks from a progressive mode of revelation. 

     The problem of this film lies with Shyamalan the writer. As I've stated, the central theme of the film deals with faith. It would have been interesting to see how the past events in Hess' life, losing his wife and his son's asthma, would play into the threat that appears and how it shapes his dealing with it and, ultimately, his central belief in God. 

     It's the threat itself that Shyamalan has come up with that is the problem. Is it spooky? Yes. But it's not very threatening. In fact, it's almost laughable when brought under the tiniest bit of scrutiny. It's not executed in a very interesting fashion, people don't react to it in logical ways, and most of the threat is dealt with off-screen with news reports and hearsay. In fact the ultimate resolution of the threat is so poor that it makes the ending of "Independence Day" seem sublime by comparison. As a result, it undermines any interest in the theme of the movie. I was so distracted by the shortcomings of the "threat" that I lost interest in the characters.

     All signs point to underwhelming. 

Back to Top