Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, and Trevor Morgan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
If you haven’t heard of the twist at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s suspense thriller The Sixth Sense, then you must have been living under a rock for almost 20 years. When it comes to movie twists, you better expect someone to bring up The Sixth Sense, simply because of how iconic and memorable it is. Not to mention “I see dead people” being one of the most recognisable movie lines in history. So it’s pretty safe to assume a lot of people have heard of The Sixth Sense, and beyond the constant hype and popularity of the film, it’s genuinely a great movie, and has continued to be a great ever since its release in 1999.
Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled 9-year old who communicates with spirits, seeks the help of Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a child psychologist. Throughout the film, we learn about Cole’s secrets and why he needs Malcolm’s help. And along the way, we’re presented with eerie imagery, chilling horror and smart writing which still holds up to this day.
Haley Joel Osment is excellent in this film. It’s one of the few cases where a child in a ‘horror’ film is good – I put ‘horror’ in quotes because to call The Sixth Sense a horror film is wrong. It’s not a horror film per se, it’s more of a psychological thriller with some horror elements. But Osment is such a great actor, especially for his age, and the way he conveys emotion is better than a lot of middle-aged actors working today! He really brings the character to life and manages to make the audience care for Cole’s wellbeing. You actually feel a connection to his character because Osment’s performance is so realistic and Cole is such a vulnerable, innocent character.
This is also one of Bruce Willis’ most iconic roles. Malcolm is a disheartened psychologist who struggles finding any solace in his day-to-day life — much like Cole — due to his ongoing marriage problems. Malcolm’s wife (Olivia Williams) won’t conversate with him, she just ignores him. He has no reason to live, but for his job. He’s been dealing with the fact he ‘failed’ one of his previous patients, Vincent (Donnie Wahlberg), and to find comfort In his life, he promises to not fail Cole the same way he did Vincent. He’s a very complex and interesting character, and Willis’ performance is unforgettable.
Toni Collette plays Cole’s mother: Lynn. And what a performance it is! Near the end, there is a scene which takes place in Lynn’s car which is absolutely extraordinary. It’s a confrontation between Cole and his mother, and Collette’s performance is outstanding. You can tell it was quite a hard scene to shoot due to the long list of emotions that both actors had to convey. Both, especially Collette, do this exceptionally.
M. Night Shyamalan has gotten quite an infamous reputation. I still see him as a modern day genius behind the camera. Yes he’s had his fair amount of misses but you can’t not love greats like Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Visit (2015), and Split (2016). And here, he’s at his best. While The Sixth Sense is not my favourite M. Night film (that honour belongs to Unbreakable), most people will still be able to see and appreciate that Night was at his absolute greatest with this thriller. His writing is clever and well thought out; every detail has been cared for and outlined, and the twist is even more effective because of how much setting up Night does. His direction is fantastic, and his storytelling is outstanding.
My only issue with The Sixth Sense is that you can only see it for the first time once. After you witness this film, it’s genius, but the more you revisit it, the less impact the twist has because you already know what to expect. And without the twist, The Sixth Sense would feel pretty empty and forgettable.
If, for whatever reason, you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, be sure to give it the time it deserves; it’s most definitely worth it. Night’s genius writing makes it such a fresh experience every time I watch it, and Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Hayley Osment are iconic.