Minister Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) left his church in rural Pennsylvania after the death of his wife in a grisly car accident. Angry that God would take his wife, Graham now concentrates on his cornfields and raising his two children, Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin). His brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), a former minor league baseball star, helps Graham with the farm and children. When mysterious “crop circles” appear in Graham’s cornfield, Morgan becomes fascinated with the possibility they are signs of alien life. When the designs appear all over the world in a short time, the Hess family becomes increasingly concerned that an alien invasion is close. As he struggles to keep his family safe, Graham also struggles with his lost belief in miracles and SIGNS. M. Night Shyamalan, the award-winning director of SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE, again proves he can create tense and frightening scenes with few special effects. But audiences may be less enchanted with the simplistic climax.
There are a few moments of humor such as Graham, who finds it difficult to curse, being uncomfortable with hearing a girl confess her frequent cussing. He later tells his children not to associate with the older girl. And, after becoming convinced of possible aliens, Merrill and the children wearing aluminum foil hats to block alien mind reading. Some may chuckle at Morgan’s book saying scientists were persecuted for their belief in alien life. A few scenes are graphically violent, such as Graham chopping invading fingers coming under a door or Merrill beating an intruder with a baseball bat, but violence is mostly suggested. Animal lovers will be disturbed when Morgan has to kill a pet to protect his sister. But only the aftermath, as the sheriff pulls a BBQ fork from the animal, is shown. Graham’s wife is seen in a flashback scene, pinned by a car, but no blood is shown. Graham declares his anger at God and admits his loss of belief that there is a reason for everything. However, Merrill comments about still believing in miracles, and later encourages his older brother’s return to belief. Vulgar language is minimized, but a few obscenities prevent a full endorsement of SIGNS.