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Review: Netflix’s Signs is Another Run-Of-The-Mill Crime Drama

July 22, 2020
4 min read

While watching a crime thriller, some of us look for an intellectually challenging experience. On the other hand, others seek pure, vicarious entertainment through their depiction of graphic violence and intriguing murder mysteries. Well, regardless of what one may prefer, the crime drama genre has something for everyone. Netflix has always cashed on this obsession that we all have with the genre, but, unfortunately, most crime shows and movies that end up on Netflix’s long catalog are subpar—they offer nothing more than the clichés and conventions of the genre.

Polish Series ‘Signs’ (or ‘Znaki’) is no different. In its opening moments itself, as one would expect, the series drops a typical murder mystery plotting. With what follows, it merely stretches this underlying mystery throughout its bloated 8-episode runtime, only to leave you with an unsatisfying conclusion. But even after being methodical, ‘Signs’ has elements that might appeal to some.

Signs Season 1 Recap

‘Signs’ is set in an old Owl Mountain town, which is gripped by the cold murder of a young girl named Patricia. Investigators realize that the crime has stark similarities to a decade-old murder of another young girl named Laura. Replacing the old Police Commander, who was unable to solve the first case, Commissioner Michal Trela takes it upon himself to find the identity of the killer of these young women. But the deeper he delves into the mysteries of this case, the more finds himself buried in the dark secrets of his town. Everyone has strange connections with the murder of these young women, and this just makes things even harder for Trela. In a town where almost everyone is guilty of something, Trela’s journey towards seeking answers turns out to be far more challenging than he had initially expected.

Signs Season 1 Review

‘Signs’ is glacial in its pace and very subtle with its developments. Its Polish setting is stunning and creates the perfect atmosphere for the show’s depiction of a small town and its morally ambiguous people. However, its flaws are in its extremely archetypal approach towards its characters. Take, for instance, the main character, Trela. He is your typical black and white, eagle-eyed detective who somehow manages to spot some otherwise-unnoticed clues.

The series never even attempts to explore the depths of his character. Instead, it invests almost all of its time on dropping unforeseeable edge-of-the-seat twists. Even when it comes to the other characters, it’s nearly the same story. There’s only one minor character who, despite his lack of depth or range, proves to be phenomenal in each one of his scenes. Those who have watched the series might have guessed that I’m talking about the new priest who shows up in the town.

After setting a pretty solid ground in the first episode, the Polish series introduces several subplots with the promise of weaving them together in its crescendo. However, these subplots bring so many uneven clues and characters to its fore that, as a viewer, you can’t help but feel wholly lost midway through its runtime. During these moments, you have almost nothing to hold on to as the characters are pretty shallow, and the performance of the cast consistently staggers. As a result, the progressions in its plot seem more muddled than exciting. As I mentioned earlier, the show’s moody, frigid setup works well with its storyline and adds more heft to its dark themes. But contrasting this is its predictability and dull tone, which sucks the thrill out of many of its otherwise fascinating twists and turns.

For the most part, ‘Signs’ manages to deliver by-the-gross thrills that most crime fans seek. Even its overarching storyline—although convoluted—is pretty well-thought-out and resolves its plot points without making them too blandly visible. Along with this, it also draws minor connections to religious symbolism and themes, which is quite appreciable. Still, one cannot overlook the fact that it is yet another formulaic series and isn’t here to stay for too long. All in all, for anyone who fancies a quintessential murder mystery drama, this one certainly fits the bill. But does it offer anything new? Absolutely not.

Read More: Where Is Signs Filmed?

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