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File:Signs ver2.jpg

No, not that. That's something else.

So what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you. Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way. Is it possible that There Are No Coincidences?
Graham Hess

A 2002 film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Weird things start happening all over the globe. Strange sightings of unearthly creatures, Crop Circles, and other unexplained phenomena start occurring.

The story focuses on the Hess family, consisting of a faithless former preacher, Graham (Gibson), his asthmatic son, Morgan (Rory Culkin), his ostensibly autistic daughter, Bo (Abigail Breslin) and his ne'er do well younger brother, Merrill (Phoenix), who live in a podunk farmland community. Like the rest of the world, they start thinking that it's an Alien Invasion being done as a stealth infiltration. The entire story is told through this farming family in Pennsylvania as they watch the paranoia grip the world through their television set. Of course, since an off-screen repulsion isn't too dramatic, there's still a fight scene. Oh, and there's a lot of incredibly blunt religious symbolism, with the story serving more as a story about a man finding his faith in God again as the "signs" start to coalesce.

Tropes used in Signs include:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: At one point, the family barricades all the doors and windows downstairs. Since they don't have enough wood to barricade all the upstairs windows, they instead barricade the doors of every upstairs room which has a window. It's only after the aliens break into the attic that the family realizes they forgot to barricade the attic door.
    • This is actually lampshaded: when Graham announces they're going to nail the windows shut, he's asked how he thinks this will work.

  "Because they seem to have trouble with cupboard doors."

  • Bittersweet Ending: Mostly happy, though. Thousands of people where killed in the invasion, but all the members of the family are alive and safe.
  • Blessed with Suck - Aliens that...melt.
  • The Cameo - M. Night Shyamalan plays the man who accidentally killed Graham's wife.
  • Chekhov's Armory: One of the main themes of this film is that everything, even if it seems bad at the time, is a Chekhov's Gun, planned out by God.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Chekhov's Skill: Merrill's baseball bat and his skills with said bat.
    • Also the glasses of water that Bo keeps around the house.
    • Morgan's asthma, which allows him to survive the alien's nerve gas attack.
  • Chiaroscuro
  • Creepy Child: Morgan and (even more so) Bo.
  • Crisis of Faith
  • Demonic Invaders - The viewer who knows his mythology and/or is prone to fan-wankery might note that crop circles, dead livestock, night-time abductions and a fear of water were attributed to fairies, demons and incubi for a long time before aliens found their way into pop culture.
    • With this in mind, a few of the movie's gaps in logic can arguably be forgiven--it was intended more as a story about fear of the strange and unknown than as a realistic depiction of what an alien invasion would look like.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Hess family dogs go crazy when the aliens are around, but they also become violent and dangerous towards the family. It's also mentioned early on that there have been reports of other animals becoming violent and acting how they'd normally act if a predator was around.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials - Egregiously stupid when you realize that water is toxic to them.
  • Foreshadowing: Several
  • Hollywood Atheist - Graham Hess.
  • Idiot Ball - The aliens, big time. They walk around without any sort of protection on a planet 70% covered by a substance that kills them but not the people they're antagonising. Why?
    • There's also the fact that their method of catching humans is apparently the incredibly advanced method of "using their hands." They travel light years across the galaxy, indicating technology far beyond our own, yet all they do is run around trying to kill people like movie boogeymen.
      • Could arguably be part of the point. We don't know anything about them or why they do what they do, just as we likely wouldn't in a real alien invasion. It might make sense to them. As to "70% covered in water", they're not exactly diving out of their ships and into the ocean; as noted by several characters, they seem to be conducting their raids well inland, away from large bodies of water, and droughts of any length are not uncommon so if they planned properly they wouldn't have to worry about rain.
  • Infant Immortality: Morgan almost succumbs to a severe asthma attack, but survives.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien - See Idiot Ball, also they can't open an unlocked door.
  • Irony: The book on extraterrestrial life the kids buy in town claimed that prospective alien invaders would likely be short due to their superior intelligence, would use advanced technology to subjugate humanity, and would probably be vegetarians. The actual alien invaders were easily over 8 feet tall (and were obviously not smart enough to realize that attacking a planet and beings made mostly of the one substance that could kill them would be a bad idea), used biological weapons in hand-to-hand combat, and were strongly implied to be carnivores, harvesting humans for food.
  • Jump Scare: A few. Examples include the Brazilian news report, Graham seeing an alien on his roof, and the scene where Graham spots an alien's leg sticking out of his crops.
  • Kill It with Water - Water turns out to be deadly to the aliens.
  • Manly Tears: Mel Gibson is very good at crying.
  • Missing Mom
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A glorious example of the third type. Graham is looking at a darkened field with a flashlight. There's nothing there. Then the alien's leg moves.
    • The classic version is also used in abundance throughout the film. And, Fridge Logic aside, they do a fantastic job.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: A particulary creepy version of this trope, since said spaceship is completely invisible.
  • Papa Wolf: Graham.
  • Plot Parallel
  • Rule of Scary - Fridge Logic aside, when you're watching it, it's one of the most effectively scary horror films of the decade.
  • Scully Syndrome - Graham and Merrill Hess
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry - "I'm insane with anger!"
    • Not so much this trope, as Graham was only yelling it while running around the house with Merill to try and scare what they thought were troublesome neighbor kids. Still pretty damn funny, though.
    • Also "I'm losing my mind!"
  • Twist Ending: Everything happens for a reason.
  • Water Source Tampering - Bo keeps starting glasses of water only to find something wrong with them (such as "It has [her brother's] amoebas in it!") and stop drinking them, leaving them scattered all over the house, half-full. It turns out leaving the glasses all over was Bo being pre-cognitive but unwilling or unable to explain it. Water is harmful to the hostile aliens, one of which had gotten into the house, and when they need to be able to hurt it, it finds itself standing in a room surrounded by partially full water glasses.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Water.