I mostly enjoyed Signs
. I liked the humor very much. It's good to look at, although I think Shyamalan may be a little overimpressed with his visual artistry. After a while, I found the use of doors and windows as a framing device somewhat grating. Unlike The Way of the Gun
, where repeated shots through corridors act as a motif that reinforces the idea of choosing a path in life or Yi Yi
, where filming through doorways lended intimacy and a sense of voyeurism to the movie, here it struck me as compositional laziness. As if Shyamalan asked himself, what can I do to add visual interest to this shot and, for lack of anything better, stuck in a door or windowframe. Still, this is a nice, creepy, bump-in-the-night kind of picture. The surface story doesn't bear scrutiny very well, but I don't think it's really supposed to. Shyamalan builds suspense nicely. The comparison to The Birds
seems inevitable, but this movie doesn't create the same lingering sense of dread that Hitchcock was able to achieve. Every now and then, when you see a flock of birds, you feel a little bit of trepidation. Most of the time, stepping into the shower is a simple morning ritual, but once in a while, you feel distinctly uneasy when taking a shower. With Signs
, the scares, such as they are, are over when the film ends.
As I said, the surface story is kind of silly, so part of the sucess of the film depends on how well the underlying psychological drama works for you. And there are two types of people in the world, those for whom the underlying themes of Signs
will resonate and those for whom they will seem like a pile of horse hockey. I guess I'm in the latter.