Not every gift is a blessing.
The Sixth Sense is a 1999 psychological thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, written by M. Night Shyamalan, produced by Hollywood Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Barry Mendel Productions, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures. The film stars Bruce Willis and Hayley Joel Osment. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actor (Osment), and Best Supporting Actress (Colette). It did not win any of those awards.
"I see dead people" -Cole Sear
Struggling psychologist Malcolm Crowe has been searching for somebody to help ever since he failed one of his most prized patients. When 8-year old Cole Sear stumbles into his life, Crowe desperately tries to help the scared child. However, everything is not what it seems when Crowe discovers Cole's horrifying secret: he is frequently visited by ghosts. Crowe now must deal with a struggling relationship with his wife and help Cole before he goes mad with fear.
The best thing about this film are the performances. Hayley Joel Osment is the single best child actor that I have ever seen. The emotions that he brings to the table are unlike anything any other 11-year old kid could do. It is so powerful to watch him have all these real problems and all these supernatural and fictional problems that he makes look and feel real. Bruce Willis' chemistry with Osment is another thing that this film thrives on. Willis develops a personal and interesting relationship with him, and it makes this movie much more watchable. Toni Colette also does an amazing job with her performance, bringing tons of emotion and depth to her character. She feels like a real mother, and Cole Sear feels like her real son. She has great on-screen chemistry with Hayley Joel Osment, too, and that adds more depth to the characters.
The ending is also good. Unfortunately, I can't provide much of a voice for it because I had it spoiled before I watched the movie, so I didn't feel the same level of shock and surprise that I did for films like The Usual Suspects or Memento. I was able to see how M. Night Shyamalan did a fantastic job of setting it up throughout the movie, with little things that give clues toward the twist. It is pretty unexpected and it is a great twist, but I will not spoil it for you guys as I got it spoiled for me.
The story is interesting. I think it is actually pretty creative and unique. Most supernatural films are not nominated for Best Picture. Most supernatural films are shlocky horror movies that have a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. This one really combines that horror aspect of the genre with a deep dramatic tension building throughout the movie. The genius thing that this movie does is weaving in the subplot about the relationship between Malcolm Crowe and his wife to set up the payoff at the end of the film. The concept of this movie is very interesting and the ghastly tone resonates with the audience because of the story. They work together to make sure that the audience is never quite horrified but never comfortable either, even when they think that they are comfortable at the end.
M. Night Shyamalan did an amazing job of both writing and directing this film. Some of the scenes and lines are classic and develop the characters and story perfectly. The standout scene here is when Cole talks to Crowe for the first time. Crowe makes assumptions about Cole. When Crowe is right, Cole takes a step forward, which is closer to where they will have their first official meeting. If Crowe is wrong, Cole can take a step away from him. It is a masterfully shot scene with addition to the tension and addition to the mystery of Cole's secret.
It really does take a while to get the movie going. Cole doesn't tell Crowe that he sees ghosts until about halfway through the movie. I understand that they wanted to build up the uncertainty and the mystery before the reveal, but it is hard to grasp the audience's attention when it feels so stretched out. A movie should have three acts; the first act develops the characters and starts the story off. The second act builds up the conflict and adds subplots. The third act is the climax and payoff of all the storylines. The Sixth Sense has three acts, but the first act is way too long. The first act should be about as long as the third act, while the second act should be the longest by at least fifteen or twenty minutes. The first act sucks up the first half of the movie, while the second and third act are near interchangeable. That is a really big problem that makes the movie suffer.
There are some points were the movie's pace slows to a halt. The pace is very bumpy. There are times where it is clean and brisk, and there are times when it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. The pace feels very uneven and very frustrating, because it takes off at certain points and it makes the movie entertaining and enjoyable at those points, but it is also so slow at other points and makes the film harder to like.
The Sixth Sense is a masterfully crafted film that has a fantastic story and acting, but will not keep viewers invested throughout.
I will give it a Savory rating. Age range is 11+.
"The Sixth Sense"
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 6/10
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Rated PG-13 for scary images, disturbing themes and behavior, some thematic elements
Released on August 6, 1999
1 hour and 47 minutes
Bruce Willis as Dr. Malcolm Crowe
Hayley Joel Osment as Cole Sear
Toni Colette as Lynn Sear
Olivia Williams as Anna Crowe
Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Gray