The Sixth Sense (1999) starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg directed by M. Night Shyamalan Movie Review

The Sixth Sense (1999)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense

I See Dead People

Having just been awarded for his outstanding work with children, psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his wife plan to celebrate his triumph. But on returning home, they find an intruder in their bathroom, who had been a patient of Crowe's but believes that he was never helped. After Crowe attempts to calm his former patient down, the intruder pulls a gun and shoots him and himself.

Several months later and Crowe has recovered from the shooting although he is an emotional mess. Still feeling guilt over his failed patient, his relationship with his wife has become seriously strained especially as he has suspicions that she is having an affair. In an attempt to deal with his guilt, he takes on the case of a 9 year old boy, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) determined to help him in retribution for failing his former patient. But it is not an easy case as Cole sees and hears things that no one else can, and on top of this, he is scared to tell his mother (Toni Collette) in case she thinks he is a freak.

Haley Joel Osment as Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense

Let me just say, that for all the things which are wrong with "The Sixth Sense", writer/ director M. Night Shyamalan has created a very good thriller which works exceptionally well on different levels. For those who want to watch it just for its entertainment factor will not be disappointed, as he has created so much suspense that it will have you glued to the screen for its duration. On the other hand, those who like to watch a film and try and predict the ending by looking for clues, will enjoy the way Shyamalan has shot this with subtle clues dispersed throughout the film.

Having been written by M. Night Shyamalan, "The Sixth Sense" is a very clever film. The initial premise of psychologist Crowe trying to aid young Cole Sear to make up for his previous failings may seem quite plain and boring. But it is the underlying scenarios which makes the film so special. Firstly you have the opening scenes which really set up the story, where we watch the jubilant Crowe come down with a bump from being praised for his work when he realises that he is not as good as he believes. On top of this we get to see the close and loving relationship between himself and his wife. Jump forward in time and this is where the film starts to get really clever. We see Crowe full of angst for his failings and the consequences of which have been the decline in his marriage and his social life.

Then we have the child, Cole Sear, who has spooky encounters with things that only he can hear and see and can only confide his feelings to Crowe. Then you have what is an exceptional ending, which although predictably has a twist, it is such a good twist that it will leave you opened jawed. Yes, there are serious flaws in the storyline, which on numerous occasions expects you take several events and occurrences for granted, such as how does Crowe get the case details for Cole, when Cole won't talk to anyone, but the story works very well. In a way, Shyamalan has created a movie which works towards entertaining the audience rather than being 100% correct in its storyline, and although some critics have slated the film for this reason, I personally prefer it.

Despite the flaws in the story, the concepts which are the driving force are what make this film so exceptionally special. Without these "The Sixth Sense" would have been just another run of the mill thriller which would have easily been forgotten.

For reasons unknown, Bruce Willis was cast as psychologist Malcolm Crowe, definitely not his usual vest and guns type role and definitely not my first choice in a serious thriller, but he did a reasonable job. The biggest problem with his performance is that the character seems very flat, as if Bruce Willis was there, not really acting but just reading lines. On the other hand, you have the young Haley Joel Osment, who puts in a scene stealing performance of someone much older than his years. Without Osment the film would have really struggled and although Toni Collette puts in a great performance in the minor role of his mother, it is definitely Osment who carries this film on his young shoulders.

For me, Shyamalan has got a relatively unique style of film making, reminiscent to Hitchcock in the way that he builds up suspense, but then he adds in subtle clues which makes it more like a game of cluedo. "The Sixth Sense" is definitely one of his best films, even though it has it's flaws, it is very clever and keeps you entertained for its entire duration. My only criticism of Shyamalan is that maybe he has expected the viewer to accept to many coincidences, but this is a small criticism and in reality the film works very well without attempting to explain how all these coincidences occur.

Even though there are some definite flaws in "The Sixth Sense" as a film, is still remains one very entertaining thriller which will deal you quite a few surprises. Although having watched it once, it is not an easy film to forget and so on further viewings the film loses a bit of magic. But this is counter acted by the clever storylines with all its subtle clues.