Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Ending to Signs was Fine

I want to discuss something that has always bothered me and it seemed to have gained much publicity ever since Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water. It’s the complete bashing of the ending of Signs and why a lot of people think that the ending is a huge cop out and somehow ruined the entire film. It seems as though ever since Lady in the Water tanked and The Village left people bare and cold, horror fans are jumping on the Shyamalan hate bandwagon and looking for things to nit-pick about all his films. Sure, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense are masterpieces but I also loved Signs and The Village. On people’s recent hit list is the ending to Signs, which I never understood the hate towards.

In the film, we learn that the alien’s weakness is in fact water and some claim that this was the ‘twist’ in the movie and it wasn’t satisfactory. What makes this ‘twist’ different from the rest of Shyamalan’s work is that this twist was hinted several times before the end of the film, whereas most of his twists leave extremely subtle clues before it happens. This makes me argue that the ‘twist’ is not really a twist at all. The whole movie revolves around the idea that things happen for a reason and the story focuses pretty heavily on Bo’s problem with water. Hell, Shyamalan’s character in the movie even states that the aliens hate water. But why do we consider this a twist? It’s because we overlook the not-so-subtle hints in the movie so when we finally do realize that the aliens melt in water, it comes off as a shocker. This is why I have trouble classifying the ending as a twist.

With The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Village and even The Happening… there are hints but they are so subtle that you’d have to watch the movie a second time to get the clues.

However, the biggest thing that everybody has against Signs (or at least one of the biggest things) is that fact that water kills the aliens. All over the Internet people scratch their heads and ask or even yell out, “water kills them! How stupid can you get?” or “Why of all things does it have to be water?” I guess people are forgetting that in H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds the single cell bacteria kills them; bacteria so simple and so small that we as human beings have grown immune to but the aliens have not. Why is it okay for the aliens in War of the Worlds to die of bacteria in the air but it’s not okay for aliens to die of water? It’s the exact same concept. I find the ending to Signs a tribute to the War of the Worlds novel. Both have a simple, overlooked object that ends up playing an important role in the story and that’s what one of the main themes is in the film. Oh, and to those who give the argument that the aliens should have known that there was waster on our planet and that it would kill them, if give them this passage from War of the Worlds:

“At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

You can make the same argument against War of the Worlds. How can such an intelligent race, who have ‘regarded Earth with envious eyes,’ not realize that there is bacteria in our air… especially bacteria that can kill them? Again, this is a mere defense of the ending, I know there are a few more flaws in Signs but to say the ending was a twist and that it was a let down to the whole movie is pushing it.


HorrO said...

I got your back on this one. I too had no problem with the way this movie ended. I really liked how everything came together in the end. I see no reason to complain about the water being the alien's weakness. Anything could be an alien's weakness because they are "aliens." If people want to complain about a M. Night movie, try "Lady in the Water," or "The Happening" (Nothing Happening).

Mayday said...

I agree that Signs was a fantastic film, and my fav of Shyamalan's. However, don't know who you've spoken with about it, but I think you're missing the boat on what issues people have with it. First off, the water is NOT the twist, nor have I ever heard anyone ever claim it was. The (quite obvious) twist is the fact that all the 'random' things in Graham's life all came to fruition at this time, pointing to what must be done to save his family. Some people find that contrived or at least not all that convincing. However, the two major sticking points people usually have are: A. they shouldn't have fully showed the alien - it was much more mysterious only catching glimpses (even on the b-day video), plus, the CGI was not all that and a bag of chips. B. Graham finding his faith again due to the realization that there are 'signs from God'. I wasn't thrilled with either reveal at the end of the picture, nor was I all that bothered by them. However, those two aspects bug more people than does the water being the aliens' bane.

brett g @ said...

I was in the theater today and saw a trailer for Shyamalan's new movie, Devil (he's just producing). When his name popped up, most of the audience groaned. Dude is box office poison, it seems. I didn't realize the hate extends as far back as Signs. I dig it a lot, including the ending. You make good points, and it seems like people are looking over the point of the film itself; the water killing the aliens are just MacGuffins basically. The real story is about a renewal of faith.

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