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It's Not Like They Didn't Warn Us. 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

After a personal tragedy, Father Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) has lost his faith and is living on a farm with his two children and his brother (Joaquin Phoenix). Waking up one morning, he discovers that crop circles have appeared on his land, and the scene is set for a film full of tension. Theories abound as to why the crop circles appear on Hess's land. Is it the work of a family in the neighbourhood with whom Hess and his brother appear to have issues, or is it something more than that? Aliens, for instance?

And so starts a film whose message is as much philosophical as it is science fictional. Questions of faith and religion are interwoven into a classically made thriller, in the style of Hitchcock (though, it has to be said, obviously not done as well as Hitchcock did it.)

The performances are competent throughout, though Phoenix is a bit of a drip and you only really realise why he's there at the end of the film. Gibson plays...well, Mel Gibson really, but he does it as well as he always does and Culkin and Breslin are wonderfully understated as his children.

There are a ridiculous amount of loose ends in this film and it can't really be said that Shyamalan ties them all up at the end as successfully as he did in his debut, The Sixth Sense. But then, maybe that's not the point. Because this appears to be a film about the build-up, the tension - Shyamalan was obviously a student at the "let's lull the audience into a nice fall sense of security before scaring the crap out of them" film school, and in certain places is exceptionally successful. Choosing to place emphasis (as much as it can be done) on silence rather than traditional action, he creates a film that is less about aliens and more about human beings - and it's certainly a film worth watching.

Laura Watson

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)