Signs

Signs ★★★

Studies show often that after natural or national disasters, there are rises in the number of people going to churches. 2002 was a great example of such a phenomena. Post-9/11 churches saw a surge in numbers, but these surges are never long lived things. The numbers drop once more, especially as more time goes on. The surges of the early 2000s are far larger than those seen in the late 2010s and early 2020s. 

Similarly, Signs is a film that reflects that internal struggle with doubt that countless Americans were experiencing at the time of its release in the summer of 2002. It’s not even remotely surprising to me that Signs had a massive box office success. Likewise, it’s not even remotely surprising to me that Signs feels its most dated when it is directly addresses the internal doubt of faith that the film is so committed to unraveling. As a former pastor and now a fully deconstructed nonbinary queer person, it’s overall message in the present day is a grating one. But analyzing the film instead in connection to the time it was released makes it easier to process. 

Despite my disinterest in the message, the film thrives in its atmospheric tension, a strong suit of Shyamalan’s, particularly in this era of his filmmaking career. The child actors in particular were standouts for me, delivering that fear that feels somehow more terrifying when seen in the eyes of children. Not my favorite of Shyamalan’s work, in that regard, The Village still reigns supreme, but I had a great time with Signs nonetheless!

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