M. Night Shyamalan takes on aliens in his third big picture. Reverend Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) wakes up to find his crops bent into a strange pattern and his dogs acting overly aggressive. His two children Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) are forced to kill one of the dogs that tries to attack them. Graham also lives with his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) who used to be a baseball star but had issues striking out too much and gave up the career.
The mysterious signs increased steadily in another slow burn. The Hess family keeps seeing and hearing disturbing figures moving around their crops but can never seem to catch them. Meanwhile, other residents report strange sightings and Officer Paski (Cherry Jones) notices odd behavior from visitors. Eventually, the news coverage shows that aliens have arrived in spaceships that hover over Mexico City, then other major cities across the world.
The grief of the family is central to the plot as Hess's wife passed away in an awful accident. The director utilizes his signature cameo for a larger role in this film as the man who fell asleep at the wheel. Hess used to be a reverend but gives up on his faith after the tragedy and becomes skeptical. He also doubts the signs that aliens are invading until he witnessed the foreign creatures firsthand.
The movie builds the suspense as the aliens approach and invade their home. The twist is less of a shocker than the first two films that garnered attention but the theme throughout does add to the payoff. Gibson is able to use his stellar acting ability fo further his religious belief. The film relies on this religion element for the final conclusion.
As far as alien invasion movies go, Signs sits somewhere near the top as it is entertaining and suspenseful though rewatching feels a little slow. Shyamalan was not able to recapture his spark with Sixth Sense and the ending feels like something conjured from rushed writing though it is hard to criticize the moving story. The cinematography is still nice though the alien special effects were kind of silly. Overall, a third good film for Shyamalan.