Houdini and Isabel: Do the Dogs in Signs Die?

Living in a rural farmhouse in the middle of Bucks County, a retired priest, Graham Hess, and his family of two children, Bo and Morgan, along with his brother, Merrill, are subjected to inexplicable events in the 2002 horror film ‘Signs.’ As mysterious crop circles and silhouettes start appearing on the farm’s premises, Graham is left wondering the cause behind all the strangeness. However, the family’s two dogs, Houdini and Isabel, also begin to act abnormally, barking at unseen things and behaving more aggressively than usual. As reports of a widespread alien invasion start gathering pace through the media, the fate of the two canines is put in jeopardy as the family looks to protect itself from the intruders on the farm. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Houdini Becomes a Threat to the Family

After the first crop circle appears on Graham’s farm, Officer Caroline Paski of the Bucks County Police Department arrives to investigate. As Graham shows her the mysterious sign in his cornfield, Bo and Morgan take their dogs outside and feed Houdini some water. Houdini had peed in the house earlier that day, something he was trained not to do. As soon as Bo places the water bowl in front of him, the dog growls and barks at her, raising his heckles as a sign of aggression. Frightened by Houdini’s strange behavior, Morgan tells his sister not to run, encouraging her to remain calm as something seems off about the situation. Soon after, Graham rushes to his kids only to find a garden tool sticking out of a dead Houdini’s chest while his children look stricken and tearful.

Upon inquiry, Graham learns that Morgan had to kill the dog because he was about to pounce on sister Bo. The explanation for Houdini’s aggression is rooted in the mysterious presence of the aliens who were haunting people across the globe. Since their arrival, reports had emerged of several farm animals behaving and acting strangely, exactly the way Houdini does towards Bo and Morgan. The dog can likely sense their presence and feel threatened by it, turning that anger onto its human owners. He is projecting his sense of insecurity to those around him as he can’t quite understand the origin of this alien presence. Unfortunately for the family’s beloved pet, it leads to his death as Morgan stabs him in self-defense, fearing for his sister’s life.

Isabel Becomes a Victim of Oversight

Following the death of Houdini, Graham orders Merrill to keep their second dog, Isabel, chained to a kennel outside the house. This is done as a precaution to keep his family safe. As the dog is relegated to the outdoors, Graham brings her food during the mealtimes. However, on one such occasion, he notices that Isabel is stubbornly barking in the direction of the cornfield. Nervous at her behavior, he wanders into the field with a torch, only to encounter the creatures haunting the farm. Near the film’s end, as the family prepares to board themselves inside to keep the aliens from entering, they forget to bring Isabel indoors. The dog continues to bark incessantly, only to stop with a whimper, suggesting that the extraterrestrials kill her.

Although the narrative never reveals what befell the dog, the likelihood is that the aliens would have disposed of her with no mercy. The reason is their ability to forewarn the presence of the mysterious creatures to their human owners. While Graham, Merrill, Bo, and Morgan can’t see the aliens, both their dogs can sense them when they are nearby. This allows them to alert everybody, which would displease the aliens as they try to keep a low profile while sneaking around the farm and looking for a way to invade the house. As such, Isabel is a nuisance to them and must be eliminated without hesitancy. Tragically, however, part of the blame also lies with the Hess family, who forgot to bring their pet when building their shelter.

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