Signs ★★★

A thrilling entry in the alien invasion subgenre that also serves as an introspective study of faith, fear, family & fate, Signs is effortless in establishing an atmosphere of tension, suspense, paranoia & uncertainty, and deftly covers its larger-than-life premise through the lens of a small-town family. What prevents it from soaring to new heights however is the half-baked family dynamic.

Written & directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense & Unbreakable), the story takes the less-is-more approach to portray its macro events on micro scale, and benefits from the director's excellent handling of technical aspects to create an unnerving aura, for Shyamalan here achieves the desired sense of dread from minimal resources by simply tapping on our fear of the unknown.

The disquieting camerawork, farmland setting, crop circles, foreboding mood, all of it contributes to the sinister build-up but with this being a story about a man's loss of faith and events that lead him to rediscover it, the characters still required more fine-tuning. Children are often a downer in these films and it's no exception here. James Newton Howard's score on the other hand is eerie, ominous & fitting.

Overall, Signs is amongst the good examples of alien invasion films, for its story is more thoughtful, grounded & human than many of its counterparts. And it also delivers the chilling delights in sufficient doses. Economical in handling the genre elements, enveloped with an uneasy vibe, and by all means a fine addition in Shyamalan's oeuvre, this sci-fi horror is efficient & effective but it still lacks the x-factor that turns a good film great.

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