In 1999, the world discovered M. Night Shyamalan with one of his greatest successes: The Sixth Sense. I guess everybody has seen this movie already, and it’s hard to write something new, or just interesting about it, but I’ll try!
Here’s the plot in two words: Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is a child who thinks he sees ghosts, resulting in psychological problems that his mother Lynn (Toni Collette) is unable to deal with. The famous psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) comes to the rescue. And here I stop.
I recently rewatched this film which, like the rest of the world, I had seen when it came out, or shortly after, about twenty years ago. I bought it in Bluray and watched it with the explicit intention of finding out if the film worked even knowing the final plot twist. Yes, there’s a plot twist (which you probably know, but which I won’t reveal here anyway), because in the Nineties movies had to have a final twist (ask Bryan Singer and David Fincher about that).
Well, I believe that, even with the full knowledge of the finale, the film works great and still manages to capture the attention of the viewer. Interestingly, I’ve only now realized that another movie that I greatly appreciated, The Babadook (2014), has a similar premise (with a mother and a problematic child having serious issues with each other) and a similar theme, but it’s resolved in a completely different way.
Personally, I found myself again captured by each scene, sometimes following the dialogues and the camera and actors’ movements, sometimes looking for the red color which so significant for the director (see also The Village, 2004). At times I simply enjoyed the beautiful soundtrack by James Newton Howard. The young Osment did an excellent job, and Bruce Willis is superb in this movie, perhaps throwing in one of the last good performances of his entire career. In the school play scene, when he laughs, I thought that it’s probably the only movie in which he does that?! His face looks so strange!
To conlclude, I think that The Sixth Sense is a well made movie, and it’s understandable why Shyamalan was seen as the new cinema messiah, someone even called him the new Spielberg. His career didn’t fully confirm these expectations, which were possibly a bit exaggerated, even if he did make some good movies. But maybe he never returned to the quality of The Sixth Sense, which was already his third film.
It’s a great horror movie, but it’s also a drama about dealing with loss, and Shyamalan conveyed a profound message related to that even though (maybe) it wasn’t even his main purpose. It’s hard not to feel true emotions with the stories of Cole and his mother, and of Malcolm and his wife Anna (Olivia Williams), and this is something that only a few horror movies can do (assuming this is simply a horror movie). Ciao!