Very spooky, and while the
direction of the scenes was excellent, the direction of the actors was
I was truly spooked by this movie. The way the scene direction, the
music, and the special effects were combined really made this an
effective thriller. Everything was very psychological, with very little
of the cheap Hollywood thrills.
At first, I was frustrated that we could never see the aliens, but as
the movie wore on, I realized that this was part of its charm. It's also
a good thing, because the aliens looked terrible. I preferred to see
them warped through a glass of water, or reflected in the television
I couldn't believe the wooden acting by all of the cast, but thinking
back on The Sixth Sense and
Unbreakable, all the actors in those movies
were also wooden, wandering around in a daze, and with very little
passion. It must be the director. While he can direct the scenes in an
amazing and thrilling way, he doesn't give the actors the range they
need to give a passionate performance. Only at the very end does Mel
Gibson break out and shine, but by then, we've had two hours of him
looking sombre and completely out of it.
The story is simplicity in itself, with so many things that don't
really make sense. However, they don't need to make sense, because of
the way the movie progresses. This is one of the times where the plot
holes didn't ruin the movie too much, because the characters (poorly acted as
they were) were wonderfully written, and the movie was rather effective
Waking up one day (it looks way past morning), Graham Hess discovers
circles drawn in his corn fields. After much searching for the culprits,
more circles are reported worldwide, and it turns out that an alien
invasion has started, with the crop circles used as guides. Guides to
what, I don't know. What was so important to the aliens that they needed
to make circles in those crops? They found a family of four. If they wanted to
harvest humans, surely they would look for a place reasonably well
The entire movie follows Graham, children Morgan and Bo, as well as
his younger brother Merrill, as they try to come to terms with the
impending invasion. Morgan seemed to have all the answers, as he also
believes everything he reads, and the book he bought on
extraterrestrials tells him things that are remarkably prescient, given
the age of the book. I don't know if the aliens could read minds, but I
think it is likely, since the one in the pantry followed Graham home,
arriving after its fleet had already left. I guessed it was out for
revenge, since Graham cut off its fingers earlier in the movie. Speaking
of that alien, it seems very strange that he couldn't get out of the
pantry, yet it had arrived in spacecraft that could travel light-years!
The ones who attacked the basement at least knew how to break windows,
joggle doorknobs, and bang against the door.
The last fight between Merrill and the alien, after it picks up the
unconscious Morgan, was a typical ending, except for the discovery that
water is like acid to the aliens. That was pretty funny, considering
that so much of our planet is composed of water! It's a good thing it
didn't rain while they invaded. It's also funny that somebody in the
Middle-East figured it out -desert dwellers! I suppose they had to drain
all the water from our harvested bodies before dining.
The title of the movie comes not just from the signs in the fields,
but from the faith Graham needs to regain. He was once a pastor (not a
priest, since they can't marry), but since his wife died, he has turned
his back on God, even to the point of denying His existence. But the
movie points out that there was a reason for everything.
His wife had to die so that she could get a glimpse of the future,
which would save her family. Her final words to Graham (in a flashback)
indicated that she knew how to defeat the alien in her living room.
Morgan took everything so seriously so that he would be serious about
the book on aliens. He had asthma so that his lungs would not be open
enough for the poison to enter. I don't know how true this is, since he
couldn't have stopped breathing completely, but since people with asthma
can't breathe well, I think it sounds plausible, anyway.
Bo was the cutest thing in the world! She had a strange thing about
water, though. I loved her always saying "it's contaminated" after one
sip, or, even better "Morgan's amoebas are in it" after he took a sip!
Of course, half-full glasses of water were all over the house, so that
there was plenty of the stuff to cover the alien when the time came.
Merrill was washed out of the minor baseball leagues, since although
he had five ball records, he also had the most strikeouts, since he
always swung, no matter how bad the pitch. This means he was good with a
bat, but also home for the family, so that he could hit the alien again
and again, and smash those glasses of water to burn it's skin (why
wasn't it wearing any clothing, anyway?).
So there were signs everywhere, and although some of the signs were
doubtful, they were also terrific to see after the fact. I wonder at all
of Grahams stories, though. There seem to be a lot of things that he
never told his family, from what their mother said when the kids were
born, to her last words. He likes to keep things private, doesn't he...
(On a personal note, I always have trouble these days with people
saying "there are two kinds of people...", because of a joke I heard
once that completes it with "there are those who divide people into two
groups, and those who don't", which I think is hilarious.)
The scene direction was the best part of the movie. Since we never
see the aliens except for a small body part here and there, until the
very end, everything is left to the imagination, like the old days. It
was great to see this kind of style. I especially loved when Merrill
smashes the only light bulb in the basement with the axe, as he's trying
to jam the door shut with it. The darkness really added to the tension.
The extras on the DVD are actually quite interesting. The director is
apparently uncomfortable talking for two hours, so we get a half hour
commentary in an interview style, with short scenes from the movie,
which was quite interesting. I like his dislike of CG animation. The
fact that they made those crop circles just for the movie (and indeed
grew the corn themselves!) was incredible. It was real, and it looked
real. I still think CG animation needs to be carefully controlled (like
with Gollum in The Two Towers), rather than abused, as in
Attack of the
Clones. Things that are real, still look more real than CG does.