Director – M. Night Shyamalan
Cast – Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Anthony Tombakis, Mischa Barton
Release Year – 1999
Reviewed by John of the Dead
With his first major full length film, writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan solidified himself in film lore with one of the most well received and critically acclaimed horror films of all time…The Sixth Sense. This shocking tale of love and death displayed M. Night’s beautiful filmmaking and excellent writing capabilities to the masses and made him the moviegoer’s household name that he is today.
The film follows Dr. Malcom Crowe(Bruce Willis), a famed child psychologist who suffers a traumatic event one night when one of his ex-patients pays him an unfriendly visit. He soon takes on the case of a young boy named Cole Sear, who reminds him of his failed ex-patient. Dr. Crowe wants to redeem himself and diligently works to cure the boy of whatever is wrong with him. It takes a while, but eventually the boy opens up to Dr. Crowe and reveals that he “sees dead people” who “don‘t know they are dead“. Dr. Crowe begins to question his abilities to cure Cole of this psychological problem until he realizes that Cole’s problem just may be a reality.
M. Night Shyamalan really struck gold with this film. Not only is this film a pretty creepy horror flick, but it is an amazing film in general. His direction is solid, the writing is genius, and the performances are great. His use of gritty, low-lighted scenes portray the somber tone of the film and give a great atmosphere for the scare scenes that come up randomly throughout the film. I really love how anytime the film associates something with death, we see the color red in the scene. This takes a while to notice at first, as it all seems to be coincidence until the final scene that makes sense of it all.
Bruce Willis did very well in the role of Dr. Malcom Crowe and this diversity really surprised many of us who assumed he was merely just an “action” genre actor. He was believable in this film and didn’t “John McClane” during any of his lines. Haha! Haley Joel Osment did an amazing job for such a young actor at the time and coulda fooled me with his “I see dead people” talk. I was pretty surprised to find out that the role of Vincent, the ex-patient, was portrayed by Donnie Walberg, a recurring character in the Saw series(Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V). Reports say that he lost 43 pounds for his role as Vincent; no wonder I didn’t recognize him.
Aside from the great direction and performances in this film, it is M. Night’s writing that makes this film so great. The story for the film is intriguing and moves so well that you never feel this film dragging or slowing down, even though this it not a fast paced film at all. The character dialogue in this film is well written as well and so is the character development behind Dr. Crowe and Cole. Many people know and remember this film by it’s “twist” ending and I must agree…it is amazing. This twist ending is a double knocking because not only does it shock the viewer, but it brings in so much emotion that you didn’t know was going on. I do not remember seeing a single dry eye with any person I have viewed this film with and it once again goes to show the emotion behind M. Night’s writing. He does not just create “horror” films, but throws in so many other emotional elements that make these films stand out so well.
So many people refer to this film as “scary” and “frightening” and you may be wondering…”just how scary is this film?”. Personally, I was never really scared throughout the film. Then again…I have seen my fair share of scary films and it takes quite a bit to scare me. I appreciate the scare scenes and did find them to be pretty creepy, but they were not over-the-top type scary that is meant to brutally scare the person. These scares were more “creepy” than anything and helped to give us a shot at what Cole’s life is like and the fear that he feels every single day. I’m sure some of you who scare easily will find this film pretty darn scary, and it is because of that that I sometimes wish I scared easily again…
Overall, this is an amazing film that I recommend to all people, horror fans or not. Watch this flick for what it is and be amazed at a horror film that is so much more than a horror film.