Thursday, July 1, 2010
#10 - Signs - 2002
The third film I chose to watch this week is easily my favorite and although I have not seen two of the films I am planning to watch (Pandorum and The Fourth Kind) I can pretty confidently say that I don't believe they can overtake Signs as my favorite of the week. Signs is not only one of my favorites for just this week but one of my favorites all time. Part of that could be that I personally believe aliens exist and that they have visited earth and the other part just because it is a damn cool movie. Below is my detailed description.
This film stars Mel Gibson and the lead role of Rev. Graham Hess. His daughter Bo (a young Abigal Breslin), son Morgan (Rory Culkin), and brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) are the films main stars. Shyamalan stars as the vet, Ray Reedy in the film but other than that there aren't any other real big name actors. Like so many others some of these individuals were not the first choice for their roles. The role of Rev. Graham Hess was originally written for an older actor and it was offered to Paul Newman who declined as did the second choice, Clint Eastwood. After writing in the character as a younger man Johnny Depp was offered the role but passed as well hence Mel Gibson got the role. The character Merrill, Gibson's brother in the film was originally cast to Mark Ruffalo whom I really really like as an actor, one of my favorites actually, but he was replaced by Joaquin Phoenix because Ruffalo had to pull out of the film due to a brain tumor. The brain tumor ended up being benign.
This film is about a reverend who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in his home with his two younger children and brother. He lost his wife in a car accident 6 months prior and has all but lost faith in his..faith. The movie starts out with the entire family discovering their corn field had been tampered with and crop circles were created. At first glance they think it might be the work of some town hoodlums. While investigating the crops further with the local sheriff Graham is concerned he no longer hears his children and when he gets to them in the backyard he see's his son sitting next to one of the family dogs and his daughter up in the clubhouse. The dog freaked out and became aggressive and in an attempt to save his sister Morgan accidentally killed the dog. Graham immediately tells Merrill to tie up the other dog tight after asking where he was, indicating he could have prevented this situation.
Later that night when tucking his daughter into bed Graham see's something atop the roof outside and immediately dashes down stairs. It is clear to the viewer that the shape looks to be that of an alien but Graham and his brother believe it is the town hoodlums, the Prichard family playing a prank. In a both tense and humorous scene the brothers go outside to locate the perpetrators and come up empty handed. In fact when they meet up with each other something or someone gets up onto the roof within seconds. The reason I say this scene is both tense and humorous is because the thought of someone outside in the dark is scary, plain and simple but the little quotes and conversations in this film that are there for humor's sake are perfect and Gibson and Phoenix along with the kids perform it so well. Before going out the conversation between the brothers is hilarious and we are reminded that Graham was a reverend so cursing (which Merrill is suggesting) wont be easy for him and its not as we clearly see. The best line, "I'm insane with anger" was absolutely hilarious. After the sheriff is called back to the house another hilarious exchange is spoken when discussing the size and stature of the perpetrator. Merrill says in a response to a Sheriffs statement that "Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility? Its these type of quips and quotes throughout this film that bring humor to an intense suspense thrill like this. Graham's daughter comes to the table where the three are talking and indicates the tv show is the same on every channel and this is where the first public information of an alien invasion is displayed in the film.
In an attempt to get the kids out of the house the next day the family heads into the small town to get there minds of things. There is a hilarious exchange between Graham and a drug store employee that you have to see and Gibson is classic in this scene. We get a glimpse that Merrill was an amazing baseball player who held a record for the longest home run but also had a history of striking out in a record number as well. One of the best quotes of the film is when a local town loser is making fun of Merrill striking out so much and Merrill snaps back, "it felt wrong not to swing", I love that!! Morgan purchases an alien book in the local bookstore as the store owner rants on about a conspiracy theory to sell soda, "thirteen he shouts" in reference to the 13th commercial during the news telecast about the aliens. Very funny stuff. The family goes back home and basically watches round the clock coverage of the the events taking place and Graham and Merrill have a serious conversation about the end of the world. The next morning Graham finds his brother in the closest watching the events and when he goes upstairs to see the children they are wearing aluminum foil hats to protect themselves from having their brains read by the aliens. This is one of the things they learned while reading the book. In a moment that turns kinda creepy they turn to a page where a house that looks eerily similar to theirs is engulfed in flames with the body of one adult and two children outside in the backyard. This is where Graham closes the book. Later that night Graham hears something out in the cornfield and as he goes to investigate he see's a glimpse of one leg of a creature and freaks out and runs back to the house. This is where you can tell he is starting to believe the hype.
The next day Graham receives a call from someone who just says his name and hangs up. He believes it to be Ray Reddy, the town vet so he lets his brother know he is heading over there because he just got a call from him. Ray is the individual who accidentally killed Grahams wife one night while driving after he fell asleep at the wheel. When Graham gets to Ray's house he looks in and see's a chair over turned but does not see Ray. As he walks around the porch he says Ray sitting in his truck with a bunch of belongings in the back seat and it is evident he is leaving town. After a brief conversation that involved an apology from Ray he told Graham there is one in the house, he locked it in the pantry and he drove off to the lake where he said he had heard they were afraid of water. Meanwhile back at home Merrill is continually watching the news feeds of everything and they show video footage from a girls birthday party in Brazil. This is where we get the first full body glance of an alien and it is creepy as hell. Seeing it myself in the theaters I loved seeing everyone else s reaction but have to admit that I myself jumped back a little bit. Over at Ray's house Graham decided to go in the house and attempts to see the creature by placing a reflection from a knife down by the bottom of the door. In one of the more surprisingly startling scenes the fingers of the alien reach out from under the door and Graham instinctively chops a few fingers off.
Graham comes home and see's both his children with his brother on the couch watching the news coverage and now all three have aluminum foil hats on. After suggesting to pack up and go to the lake Graham is out voted by his family to stay in the house. They decide to board up the entire place and stick it out there at home. During this scene and later in the film there are some very sentimental conversations Graham has with each of his kids during their birth and it turns out those stories are actually real true life stories that took place with Shyamalan's own children, pretty unique and interesting. After boarding up the place the family has a conversation that to my eye looked as though they were preparing for the end of the world. Merrill suggested making some sandwiches and Bo said, "I want spaghetti". Graham says, "Spaghetti sounds great, Morgan what do you want"? "Anything? French toast and mashed potatoes" said Morgan. "Good choice, Merrill"? asked Graham. "Chicken Teryaki" answered Merrill. Graham then said, "I'm going to have a cheeseburger with bacon" he then smiled and said, "extra bacon". It was an unsettling scene because you felt as though these characters felt this would be their last meal. After a dramatic exchange at the table where the family hugged and cried loud banging emerged and the aliens were about to invade the house. Alien fingers were visible trying to come under the door and at one point Merrill say's "their in the house" meaning upstairs. They head down to the basement and in an attempt to throw something a Graham, Merrill accidentally broke the light bulb and for a brief moment they were in the dark. After getting the door sealed Graham remembered that the basement was an old coal fill and there possibly a section where they needed to seal it off. As both Graham and Merrill standing with their flashlights point towards Morgan they realize he is right in front of it and an alien attempts to grab him. There is ca motion and a struggle and we are left seeing Graham helping his son breathe. His medicine is in the house and in a struggle to have faith and actually believe in it Graham helps his son regain normal breathing.
In the morning they awaken to reports on the radio that the aliens have left and there is a brief moment of relief by the family. They head upstairs out of the basement and as Merrill goes to get Morgan's medicine Graham carries him to the sofa. He goes to get the tv set from the closet and as he is moving the tv to the front room in the reflection of the tv he see's and Alien holding Morgan. This scene for me was quite startling the first time I saw it because it wasn't expected at all. There was a sense of calm and closure at this point and personally I felt that they had lived through everything the night before. It was a big twist for me. As his daughter stood by in disbelief herself and Merrill came to the room and dropped everything he was holding Graham remembered what Merrill said earlier in the basement how they have poison they spray. Thinking back to one of the things his dying wife said to him Graham says "Swing away Merrill, Merrill swing away" and we immediately see his baseball on the wall to the right of him. Merrill does just that and as water hit the Alien and immediately burned it's skin Merrill knew how to defeat him. The Alien attempted to spray poison in the mouth of Morgan but after continual beatings from Merrill, Graham got Morgan and took him outside to try and save him. Visions of Merrill smashing glasses filled with water are shown and a final scene shows the alien on the ground, appearing to be near death next to the tv. Merrill runs out back and Graham has administered a shot to Morgan. After a short while Morgan regains breathing and is fine and well. The final scene of the movie shows it snowing outside and shows Graham putting on his jacket and it is evident he has gone back to ministering and is now a reverend again.
This was one hell of a great movie. From the beginning credits where eerily similar creepy music from the movie Psycho played to the end where the twist of the alien being in the house still made this film wonderful. The music throughout the movie was excellent and there were references to greats like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Psycho, and the Twilight Zone. I also especially enjoyed how Shyamalan did not overuse the special effects and kept the audience wanting more. Waiting to see that alien, waiting for a scary scene, waiting to see the ufo's. Throughout the film I enjoyed the suspense that was built up in this movie. Add that along with the humor they added in and it was stellar. One portion I did not speak of before which I also really enjoyed were the flashback scenes where Graham came up to the road his wife was killed on and the showing of their last conversation. In a weird twist that final scene where he has his last conversation with his wife was filmed on September 12th, 2001 after the cast and crew held a candlelight vigil for those lost on 9/11. Very creepy and weird. Gibson was the perfect character for this role and his humorous side at times and then his serious dramatic times at others were a perfect mix. He is a great actor and was phenomenal in this film. This film was amazing and is easily the best alien film I have ever seen. I especially love films that make you wonder what you would do in that same situation. This was one that felt like it could be real to me and made me think to myself that very questions throughout the movie. It was brilliant in so many different ways. This film probably more so than any Ive graded so far gets an A+!