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The Sixth Sense (1999)

  Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Toni Collette, Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis
Links: The Sixth Sense on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 35th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Sixth Sense (1999) is also mentioned in mino's review of 50 First Dates (2004), mino's review of About a Boy (2002), andy-j's review of Identity (2003), mino's review of Mercury Rising (1998), andy-j's review of Minority Report (2002), andy-j's review of Signs (2002), pearly's review of Signs (2002), pearly's review of The Ring (2002) and pearly's review of Vanilla Sky (2001).

"I'm in neither camp" - a review by pearly

This is one of those movies that people say "you either love it or you hate it" about. I hate it when people say that, because it's never true, there's always people who think it's just okay, and my analysis of this film proves it, because I don't love it, and I don't hate it. So take that.

I think enough water has passed under the bridge that I can now mention the word "twist" without ruining someone's first-time experience of the film, because, let's face it, even if there's someone out there who doesn't already know that there's a big twist in this film, the chances of them reading this review before seeing the film are remote, and, quite frankly, they'd be silly to wait this long to see it and then to go reading this review just beforehand anyway.

But, back when The Sixth Sense came out, you weren't allowed to talk about the fact that there was a twist, let alone the contents of such a twist (which I won't talk about, you know, just in case). It's pretty much the same deal as The Crying Game (1992), which, incidentally, I haven't ever seen, but have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that, unless I have some sort of memory altering operation or accident, I won't be able to see that film in the way it was intended.

The Sixth Sense, however, I did see at the cinema, and I saw it before I even knew that there was a twist. Furthermore, I didn't guess what the twist was, and was thusly left, popcorn halted halfway on its journey to mouth, staring blankly at the screen. Just as M. Night Shyamalan wanted me to be. As I remember it, it was pretty darn cool.

But was it cool enough for me to come out of the cinema having soiled myself with excitement? No, not quite. Hence, the two camp thing, of which I am in neither. I thought it was a pretty great moment in cinematic history, and I can see why people would wet themselves over it, but there were a few things about The Sixth Sense which made it come up short, in my book.

One of those things was Haley Joel Osment. This film began my lifelong (okay, so my life isn't over yet, so come on Osment, change my mind - I bet you can't) distaste for this pint-sized actor. Christianed ratboy forever after, he's one strange looking kid who quite possibly isn't the worst actor ever, but who is bad enough for me to loathe on screen. His acting basically consists of alternating between various vocal levels, from the whisper all the way up to the loud whisper, all whilst looking like a deer in the headlights. Just thinking about it makes me mad.

For my money, Bruce Willis also fails to impress. I don't hate him as much as some people do, but I can't help but think that someone else in his role could have made for a better overall experience. Compare that with Toni Collette's performance, and you have the difference between a brilliant actor and one that's just getting by. Collette's character, dressed in those tacky outfits with the long, garish fingernails, is brought to life not simply by this costuming. Collette is able to play so many different characters believably, and this was one step in her career that proved this to many more people. As a stepping block for her, it is wonderful, and I came away more impressed by her than by much of the rest of what the film had on offer.

Watched too often, I'm sure that The Sixth Sense would lose all appeal, but seeing it again four years or so after seeing it for the first time, I was able to retain some of the suspenseful element of the story, and enjoy it for what it is again. It's not a particular favourite of mine, but it's not a bad little watch either.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 31 Jan 2005

"Compelling" - a review by andy-j

Cole Sear is a young boy who is withdrawing more and more into himself as each day goes by. He has no friends and he won't even talk to his mother - something is seriously amiss. Cole has a secret - he can see the dead, but he is so scared of them that he is barely able to function. His only hope lies in Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist. Malcolm once had a patient very like Cole, who he felt he let down. So he feels he owes it to Cole to help him out in whatever way he can. Maybe then he will feel better about the one patient from his past who couldn't do anything for.

I think this is one of the first films I saw that genuinely scared me. It doesn't resort to cheap and nasty scares to do it. It uses atmosphere, music and cinematography to create an uneasy sense of fear in the audience. It can strike at any time. You never know what is around the corner.

One of the most amazing things about The Sixth Sense is the way in which it is structured. It is genuinely clever because the whole way through, it plays on your assumptions without you even realising it. The way that it moves from one scene to the next leads you to assume the things in-between that aren't shown. For example, Cole gets into trouble at school. In the next scene, he is sitting at a table in the school office, and Malcolm enters the room, sits with him, and starts talking. You automatically try to connect the two scenes by assuming that the school called Cole's mother, who called Malcolm and asked him to see Cole. But in fact, this is not correct. These small things are subtle and many, and you don't even notice them. And they lead you up the garden path. Watching this movie a second or third time is a very different experience, as you begin to pick up on the little tricks it played on you the first time.

The story is ingenious, well-conceived and brilliantly told. The script uses scares, tension and a lot of emotion to create a compelling and highly-watchable film. The acting is superb. Most impressive is Haley Joel Osment as Cole. The script never really outwardly states how Cole feels inside, but Osment gives Cole so much unspoken inner torment that you feel real empathy for his brave little character (check out the deleted scenes in the DVD release). I was completely blown away by his performance. Bruce Willis, as Malcolm, gives his character a great sense of honesty, portraying a perfectionist racked with guilt, doing it all in a surprisingly subtle and graceful manner. Toni Collette plays Cole's mother as a fiercely proud, strong, loving, but very scared person who is only just holding on. Amazing.

I cannot say enough good things about this film. I've seen it four or five times now and it is still just as engrossing as it was the first time I saw it. An absolute classic.

andy-j gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 1 Aug 2002

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.50
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 10 (by andy-j)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. An absolute classic!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from John Carrera on Tue 02 Sep 2003 16:52 #

  2. I couldn't agree less.

    Rating given: 5

    A comment from Chris on Tue 02 Sep 2003 17:47 #

  3. This movie is the best ever, and the twist is FAB TING would sooooooo not expect it hehe.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Cole on Wed 02 Apr 2008 01:24 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.33 (3 ratings)

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