The Sixth Sense (1999) / Thriller-Mystery
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements and violent images
Running Time: 107 min.
Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Glenn Fitzgerald
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
Review published May 14, 2000
It's been so long since the horror genre has had a good movie that when one finally came down the pike it was bound to get too much praise. The supernatural thriller in question is The Sixth Sense, and for some reason there is a large element of the United States population with which this well-made but gimmicky movie struck a serious nerve, even leading to it garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture (which goes to show how weak 1999 was for films).
The Sixth Sense deals with a child psychologist named Malcolm (Willis, Armageddon) who has a night of tragedy when one of his patients kills himself in his house. After that night, Malcolm's existence was never quite the same, and years later he encounters another young boy (Osment, For Better or Worse) he perceives to have the same problems as the patient he lost before. Thinking he can make things right again if this time he helps the boy, Malcolm takes it upon himself to get to know the boy, who is having terrifying visions of "dead people".
The Sixth Sense features quality acting by Osment as the young boy, and Collette (Velvet Goldmine, Clockwatchers) as his mother. Willis does an adequate job in not hamming things up and is surprisingly tolerable for the entire film. Shyamalan sets the right moods at the right times, and outside of a needless "surprise" ending, gets the most of the quality screenplay. The film does tend to be overly manipulative of the audience, and probably those viewing it who are fooled will think it's better than it really is, but credit the film for at least being able to hold the attention of most for the entire duration. Sadly, it's one of only two major release horror movies made in the 90s (Scream is the other one) that is any good.
©2000 Vince Leo