Review By Paul Mount, 4.5 out of 5 This is a review of a Region 1 DVD for more info try here
M Night Shyamalan’s ingeniously low-key take on the alien invasion story, hugely successful on its theatrical release and yet still oddly underrated, arrives on DVD (R1 only, so far, sci-fi kids) and is a revelation. Unlike many big-budget FX extravaganzas which can look a bit anaemic when reduced to TV proportions, SIGNS benefits enormously by the home video experience and, if anything, is even more terrifying and thought-provoking than it was on the big screen. The reason is obvious; it’s a huge story told on an intimate scale and it just seems so much more involving in the comfort of your own home. Disillusioned widower priest Graham Hess (Mel Gibson on fine form) is faced with the impossible when crop circles inexplicably appear in his backyard field. Similar circles appearing all over the world are the forebears of the arrival of strange lights in the sky?he advance guard for an alien invasion. Graham has to protect his own family and fight against his own growing distrust in his old faith. Spaceship fans will be disappointed; there are no fleets of invading mother ships here, no Will Smith heroics to save the day. This is the story of one frightened family barricaded into its own home and struggling to stay alive when Mankind, entirely offscreen, is routed by largely unseen alien invaders.
I’d forgotten just how good SIGNS is. Stunningly written and directed by Shyamalan (surely the most exciting new director working in Hollywood today) with persuasive performances from Gibson, Joaquim Phoenix as his brother Merrill and the outstanding Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin as his brave yet terrified kids. There’s some wry humour, some genuine edge-of-the-seat moments and plenty of spine-chilling tension. There’s also a slightly disappointing ending, a man in a rubber suit and, refreshingly for Shyamalan, no twist in the tail. Thoroughly engrossing, SIGNS is brilliant film-making and totally unmissable.
THE DISC: No commentary but a nice bunch of bells and whistles. A handful of deleted scenes ?the best being Merrill and Graham’s attempt to barricade the attic ?a multi-angle storyboard feature, a brief snippet of an embarrassing early Shyamalan monster movie and a brilliantly-detailed six-part ‘making of’ which can be run as one long hour-plus documentary. A disc which already has pride of place in my collection.