The Sixth Sense Movie Review

Another week in '99, another horror film. But will The Sixth Sense really scare you? Despite the title that is more reminiscent of Leprechaun than The Exorcist, this is a genuinely creepy film with a solid story, great acting, and a surprise ending that not even a jaded critic like me saw coming.

The concept is that young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) sees ghosts, and they torment him night and day, to the point of physical abuse. Desperate for help, he eventually hooks up with brilliant child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who tries to help him out.

Meanwhile, Cole's mom (Toni Collette) and Malcolm's wife Anna (Olivia Williams) have problems of their own relating to the men in their lives. While these subplots are a bit sketchy at first, they do serve a purpose, coming full circle by the end of the picture.

Writer/director Shyamalan has a few credits under his belt (nothing I've ever seen, though), but his skill at combining the supernatural with the everyday here is pretty well-done, and is largely without intense special effects. As for acting, Willis actually does a credible job with his part, for the first time since 12 Monkeys (1995).

Osment -- previously seen as Forrest Gump Jr. in Forrest Gump, as the kid in the underrated Bogus, and as Murphy Brown's son -- is stellar in his role. Although he over-enunciates to an extreme, he's an excellent actor, and I hope that will carry over to his adult roles later in life.

The Sixth Sense is still a horror/thriller at its heart, so don't expect it to win any great flood of awards. But it's a solid film and the work of a meticulous writer, which is a rare pleasure these days.

UPDATE: It's kind of amusing to look at my original comments about this film, written 2 1/2 years ago when I was getting sick of horror flicks. The Sixth Sense has obviously become a classic, and a well-deserved one. The movie is finally getting the special edition DVD treatment with Disney's Vista series DVD, a double-disc set that features deleted scenes and countless documentaries (many produced recently and looking back at the making of the film). It's a highly recommended collection for any movie lover.

Osment and Willis brood together.


Comments

The Sixth Sense Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG-13, 1999

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