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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Sixth Sense enjoys being playful with our imagination. What your
eyes see is not exactly what it is. What your mind paints is not
exactly what there is. In the world of The Sixth Sense logic is your
There are obvious (and sometimes less obvious) hints right in front of you but you don't grasp them because of your preconceptions and premises. I once read a novel called 'Somewhere carnal over 40 winks' which used similar techniques found in this movie, but in writing. I'm sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did, if you like to be intellectually surprised.
If you haven't seen this movie, don't read reviews and don't talk to your friends who have already seen it. The movie is very much susceptible to spoilers. It is suffice to say that the ending is just shockingly delightful.
I don't consider this movie heavily philosophical or thought-provoking. Having said that, it is one of the movies I love to watch again and again.
When I first saw The Sixth Sense, I didn't know what to expect. I guess
I was looking forward to a good scary horror flick. I was very surprised.
I found that the purpose for this movie was far greater than just trying to
scare the audience. I found this movie was showing not only the emotions
fear, but also faith, commitment, sadness of loss, and love. The end was
surprising, I had to see it again. The second time I watched it, I did it
from a totally different perspective (this is a very rare quality for any
movie), and I enjoyed it just as much, or maybe even more. I also, as many
viewers have, tried to detect fallacies in the story. I couldn't find one.
In addition, for those that appreciate great soundtracks, the music only
helps to heighten the experience of the movie.
I believe that a great movie is one that helps the viewer perceive life and the world differently. The Sixth Sense is one of those extraordinary movies that does that to me. This movie reflects on some difficult subjects that will make the viewer walk away asking eternal questions. Questions about death, about letting go, about eternal love and commitment, about the love between parent and child, and between husband and wife. Maybe I read too much into this very wonderful film, but I believe it will be difficult to find a movie that has touched on these subjects so poignantly and so well for years to come.
The Sixth Sense is a brilliant film, plain and simple. It is unique in that it relies on imagination and psychology to scare you and make you think twice about the world around you. The director did a fabulous job constructing the imagery of the film, and I genuinely did not know about the ending until it was revealed. Quite a shock! The Sixth Sense goes in my book as the single greatest psychological horror film I have ever seen. Anyone who bashes it are simply not giving it a chance or don't fully realize the complex dialog and imagery around them. Brilliant
This is an incredibly powerful film. Awash with emotion but never stooping
to sentimentality this is the story of one frightened little boy you will
never forget. All your worst childhood nightmares: the noises in the attic,
the intruder in your house, that cold breath that makes your hair stand on
end are here and then some.
Bruce Willis gives one of the best performances of his career as the child psychologist trying to get himself back on track after a violent encounter with a former patient and it would be a crime if Haley Joel Osment were overlooked at coming awards ceremonies for his powerful performance here. It has been a long time since a child actor displayed such maturity in a role. Cole's innocent little face hidden behind his absent father's large-framed spectacles betrays a child coming to terms with a terrifying secret in the only way he can.
You don't need to go and see this film again to realise why the end is such a surprise but you will rush out to watch it again purely because it's an almost perfect example of it's genre.
Laugh, cry, jump a mile out of your seat, sigh with relief - but not too early... We did!
The surprise ending to "The Sixth Sense" has gotten so much attention
that it threatens to overshadow the film. I occasionally hear people
say things like the following: "The 'twist' was so obvious that I
figured it out in the first five minutes!" Some of those people may
even be telling the truth. There's no way to know. But there's a lot of
condescension in such remarks, an implication that anyone who didn't
figure it out must be a really dumb sucker. At least in my case I have
an excuse. When I first saw this film back in early 2000, I knew
nothing about it other than that it was about the relationship between
a psychiatrist played by Bruce Willis and a child with some sort of
psychic power. I didn't even know what that psychic power was, and an
early scene led me to think it was telepathy. In short, I had no idea
even what the movie's subject was until about the middle of the film,
so I was completely adrift as to solving the movie's mystery.
Still, to anyone who did figure the secret out quickly, I have this to say: you may be smarter than I am, but that does not make this a bad movie. Hitchcock went to great lengths to keep the ending to "Psycho" from leaking out. Many people who watch that film today figure the twist out (probably because it has been imitated in countless thrillers since then), but the film is still a classic that holds up well today. Surprise endings are, ultimately, just clever contrivances, extra layerings on the cake. They do not constitute the difference between a good movie and a bad movie. A movie must work on its own terms before springing a surprise.
Nevertheless, there can be no denying that the twist in "The Sixth Sense" is particularly clever. It's no virtue if a twist is impossible to predict. It is just as important that the twist be logical as that it be surprising. Plenty of thrillers feature twists that are arbitrary, where the plot fails to provide enough hints. Even a clever thriller like "Fight Club" requires a bit of a stretch to accept the ending. What makes "The Sixth Sense" impressive is that it never cheats by suggesting that earlier scenes were imaginary. Everything we see is real, and only our assumptions fool us. If, however, you weren't fooled, all the better: just because you figure out the magician's trick does not make it a bad trick.
Consider what appears to be happening in the film. Willis plays a psychiatrist who has received accolades for helping children with problems. We see a romantic evening with him and his wife at home. Then he gets into an ugly, violent confrontation with a former patient. Willis believes he has failed, and he wants to make amends by helping a new child (Haley Joel Osment) who appears to be having the same problems (and perhaps the same abilities) that his former patient once displayed. But just as he thinks he's making progress with Osment, his marriage seems to be falling apart. His wife isn't talking to him, and is beginning to see another man.
However these events may be reinterpreted by what is revealed later, the movie is effective because it works on this basic level. In a key scene, Willis asks Osment what he wants most, and Osment answers, "I don't want to be scared anymore." It is not always clear that Osment is really facing a mortal threat. But because the movie establishes that he is undergoing a scary experience, by the time the movie reveals what it is that is frightening him, we have our emotions invested in the character, and the terror is very real to us. This is a step that most horror films neglect, the recognition that the most powerful fear may be the fear of fear itself.
When I was a teenager, I assumed that all good horror films had to have an R rating. Even as an adult, I was surprised that a movie as frightening as "The Sixth Sense" received only a PG-13. In hindsight, however, most of my favorite horror films, whatever their rating, have relatively little violence. Like all good horror films, "The Sixth Sense" allows the suspense to build and does not rely on either excessive violence or cheap scares. The ending adds an additional level of intrigue, but it is not necessary to one's enjoyment during the first viewing. Still, if you have not seen the film by now and remain woefully ignorant of the surprise lurking in its plot, I urge you, before someone ruins it for you, go and watch the movie!
The Sixth Sense is one of those films that rarely happens these days. In
other words, I knew so little about it before sitting in the cinema that it
wasn't ruined before it started.
I don't want to ramble on about it so I'll just say... absolute perfection. An incredible story that had me and my friends gripped from start to finish. The twist in the tale was totally unexpected as well.
After it finished we sat through the whole of the credits and talked about how fabulous it was. If only more films were like this. I can't remember the last time we did that!
Congratulations to all involved in this masterpiece.
What makes this film so wonderful to watch is not simply the acting, or the
terror it instills, or even the plot itself. It is the way in which the
writer/director M. Night Shyamalan takes his vision from the page, and
carefully crafts a tale that completely absorbs the viewer. As a result, we
are treated to a wealth of emotion: fear, sadness, joy, confusion, and
humor, each one a compliment to the other.
Haley Joel Osment delivers, plain and simple. By now, so much has been said about the young actor that any more would be repetition. Needless to say, his portrayal of Cole Sear is remarkable. His ability to communicate, through a simple look or gesture, the depths to which his character's soul has been thrust is what truly carries the film. He succeeds at this task beautifully, convincing us while never going over the top; indeed, by the time Cole utters his now-famous line, you not only believe him, you are chilled by the fact that Osment the actor may actually believe it himself.
Bruce Willis turns in a stellar performance, complimenting his young co-star while never overshadowing him. It is a tribute to his respect of the material in so much as he fine tunes his delivery to seem reserved, yet not too toned down.
The Sixth Sense is more than simply a wondrous two hours. It has, in effect, created a new genre of filmmaking... the film is neither drama, nor horror, nor action. Rather, it is a seamless blending of all three, a film that encompasses the best aspects of each genre, without being limited by the worst. Hollywood has taken notice of this, and one can only expect a series of poor imitations to follow. But at least they'll always have The Sixth Sense to guide the way.
This is perhaps my film of the decade so far. The reasons are too numerous
to go into in such a short critique. Surely there have not been too many
films that can take you through the range of emotions that the Sixth Sense
does. The prime emotion; fear, is a difficult emotion to generate in a
modern audience that has seen it all before, but this film succeeds where
others fail, praying on your imagination and generating suspense from subtle
devices rather than blatant horror.
It is such a relief that the performances of Willis and the excellent Osment live up to an excellently directed quality storyline. I will be disappointed if the youngster doesn't receive at least an academy nomination.
I seldom go to the cinema twice to watch a film, in fact I cannot remember when I have done it before. Tonight I am taking an old friend to see this film as it will be a tragedy if he doesn't see it on the big screen. He has heard so much about it that he is reluctant to go, as I am when something is over-hyped. Just for a change though, here is a film that lives up to its billing and has you thinking about it for weeks to come. As for the twist at the end? Well it totally disorientated me, my mind spinning back throughout the whole film. A fantastic punchline to my film of the year.
"I see Dead People!" Sixth Sense is well worth the ticket price. It's a
tight story and the acting is outstanding. There are a couple of good
scares, rendered more effective because I dropped my guard. My sixth sense
says such was the Writer/Director's express intention.
It's a ghost story yet doesn't rely on special effects and computerization to chill your bones as the Haunting tried to do. The scares come from the sliver of possibility "what is happening may be true." Well that, and the dropping your guard thing.
Everyone in the cast is outstanding. Bruce Willis is at his best since Die Hard and The Last Boy Scout. His patient is 33 years junior to him ( played by Haley Joel Osment) is outstanding. Truly. I was mesmerized by his ability to get into this "sixth sense" possessed character. Malcolm and Cole helping each other resolve their problems occurs with good chemistry, and is believable, despite the heights you have to take your mind to believe the story's premise.
I am sooo tempted to give clues on when to grip the one you're with or arms rests a little more tightly; but alas, cannot in good conscience (or for fear of hate mail!) And out of respect for M. Night Shyamalan for a very good script and story thesis.
Summing: if you're "only" looking for the Chill Factor, take in Blair Witch over this one for those final 10 minutes. The reality factor is stronger, both despite and because of the low budget factors. But if you want to see one of the best Hollywood manufactured horror films in a long time, give Sixth Sense a chance. I enjoyed it.
Review: The Sixth Sense, Director: M. Night Shyamalam
As a film which has undoubtedly caught the eye of the film going world, it was difficult to avoid the surrounding hype and publicity. Luckily most of the people I had spoken to who had seen the film did not spoil the 'twist' at the end, which, although is rather a laboured point by now in reviews, certainly adds to the "Oh, I see now" factor.
The story revolves around a child psychologist played characteristically by Bruce Willis. I say characteristically, because although his portrayal is quite real, and at times touching, there always seems to be an unnerving 'Die Hard'-ness to his speech, lending the dialogue some comical qualities. Having said that, his overall attempts at revealing the vulnerable and disturbed psyche of his character achieve good results. As the psychologist, he is plagued by a particular event in his professional life which he perceives as his personal failure, and sets out to redeem himself by righting the wrong and wiping his failure from his conscience. This opportunity presents itself to him in the form of Cole Sear, played devastatingly well by Hayley Joel Osment. Cole has a problem, he sees dead people. To the outside world he is seen as a loner, a problem child, and has become increasingly isolated. Hence the need for a child psychologist. Once we have been introduced to these two central players, we are taken on a journey of discovery, as both of these characters in the space of the film will learn a great deal about each other, themselves and human nature.
It is this particular point which the film attempts to address so strongly - human communication. That when this breaks down, an inevitable cycle of interpersonal destruction takes course, sometimes irreversible. This is framed within the context of a superbly told ghost story. The sheer truthfulness and honesty with which the concept of fear is expressed by all the characters, is breathtaking. Cole's' experience of the walking dead, appearing out of nowhere, Malcolm's fear of a deteriorating marriage, and Cole's' mother's fear relating to her own existential angst. All of these are played against the backdrop of the often difficult but finally warm relationship between Cole and Malcolm. Eventually, and against the odds, each character displays courage and bravery as they face up to their existential and supernatural fears.
There are one or two niggling problems plot wise, but in a film where the overall atmosphere created is one which encompasses death, fear, and finally hope, it is impossible not to overlook incongruencies. Superb direction, acting and ambience lead me to think that M. Night Shyamalan has really succeeded in telling a chillingly touching story about the triumph of the human spirit.
February 14, 2000 Harshad C. Keval
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