The Hess family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania wake up one morning to find a 500 foot crop circle in their backyard. Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his family are told extra-terrestrials are responsible for the sign in their field. They watch, with growing dread, at the news of crop circles being found all over the world.

3.5

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a former minister of religion who gave up his vocation and his faith when his wife was killed in a tragic accident. He's now just a farmer, coping with a life of grief with his two children Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin), with the help of his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix). The Hess house hovers on the edge of lush cornfields and funny things are happening. One night Graham and Merrill discover gigantic perfect circles of flattened corn in the centre of their fields which they think is the work of vandals. But then the dogs are turning nasty and the kids are taking affirmative action.

Signs
has a basic B movie plot about an alien invasion that's been layered with the story of Graham's loss of faith. The question the movie poses – and answers – is do you believe in miracles or luck?

Mel Gibson is terrific in this less than gung ho role and the children are also splendid – young Abigail Breslin has an amazing stillness about her. Also impressive was Cherry Jones as the local policewoman.

Shyamalan knows the tricks of the trade and Signs is exciting and gripping. It's amazing how spooky those cornfields can be at night. John Newton Howard's music score is effective and used judiciously. And interestingly writer/director Shyamalan takes on the role of the truck driver who caused Graham's wife's death.

Comments From David Stratton:
OK, so it's a commendable idea to make a film about an alien invasion which avoids all the usual over the top CG effects. But couldn't this story have been just a little bit exciting? When the first alien appeared, and turned out to be nothing more scary than a rather thin man in a skin-tight suit, I almost wished I was back watching The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Joaquin Pheonix says "It's like The War Of The Worlds." Thanks, Joaquin, for the comparison but I'm afraid it isn't as anywhere near as good. Part of the trouble, apart from the fact that Mr. Shyamalan takes himself so very seriously as a Great Artist, is the fact that Mel Gibson gives such a numbingly dull performance. And when he regains his faith at the end... spare me!