Reviews: The Sixth Sense

I see a perfectly okay movie.

For years, I had a deep-seated hatred of The Sixth Sense. People were saying it was, like, the scariest movie ever, and I just couldn't see why; in retrospect, a reputation whose existence is most probably owed mostly to the hype machine and the more, shall we say, morally lapsed critics, if you know what I mean (see, this isn't just a problem that gaming media faces today, but let's not digress). I just sat through the entire thing wondering when I was going to be scared. Apart from a few bogstandard Jump Scares there was little to write home about. Hype Aversion out the wazoo and all that. As a result, whenever the subject of this film has been brought up, my immediate reaction was, rather disagreeable.

Then, mostly by coincidence, I saw it again. Gotta say, movie's got some heart, and little Sor-err, Haley Joel Osment carries the movie like a champ. You really feel sorry for the little guy. And hey, it wouldn't be the last time the guy sought sanctuary or stood face to face with dead people! Though Bruce Willis' emotional range is pretty limited by default, he does a good job here. Many memorable sets and angles and all that. It all equates to a perfectly okay film with a few memorable moments, and some unexpected grade-A schmaltz, too.

No, the film's real fault lies with the whole Twist Ending (which is telegraphed a mile away, by the way). It would've been more interesting if Willis' character had found out he was dead 'round about halfway through the movie and sought out the ghost of his killer to truly understand him and forgive him. I don't necessarily believe Osment's character's arc would've inevitably been the same as Grey's path to murderous, hopeless insanity, so having Willis earn his "redemption" by understanding only Osment seems a bit generalizing. Good enough for Dr. Crowe to move on to whatever lies beyond this mortal plain, but hardly the stuff of cathartic cine.

For what it's worth, Shyamalan shows some small talent here as a writer/director that he's never shown before or since. Over the years, he's turned his reputation into a pretty deservant joke by replicating what is a rather overrated Twist Ending to begin with, in increasingly poor outings.