The Sixth Sense (Collector's Edition Series)
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"I see dead people," whispers little Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), scared to affirm what is to him now a daily occurrence. This peaked 9-year old, already hypersensitive to begin with, is now being haunted by seemingly malevolent spirits. Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is trying to find out what's triggering Cole's visions, but what appears to be a psychological manifestation turns out to be frighteningly real. It might be enough to scare off a lesser man, but for Malcolm it's personal--several months before, he was accosted and shot by an unhinged patient, who then turned the gun on himself. Since then, Malcolm has been in turmoil--he and his wife (Olivia Williams) are barely speaking, and his life has taken an aimless turn. Having failed his loved ones and himself, he's not about to give up on Cole.
This third feature by M. Night Shyamalan sets itself up as a thriller, poised on the brink of delivering monstrous scares, but gradually evolves into more of a psychological drama with supernatural undertones. Many critics faulted the film for being mawkish and New Age-y, but no matter how you slice it, this is one mightily effective piece of filmmaking. The bare bones of the story are basic enough, but the moody atmosphere created by Shyamalan and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto made this one of the creepiest pictures of 1999, forsaking excessive gore for a sinisterly simple feeling of chilly otherworldliness. Willis is in his strong, silent type mode here, and gives the film wholly over to Osment, whose crumpled face and big eyes convey a child too wise for his years; his scenes with his mother (Toni Collette) are small, heartbreaking marvels. And even if you figure out the film's surprise ending, it packs an amazingly emotional wallop when it comes, and will have you racing to watch the movie again with a new perspective. You may be able to shake off the sentimentality of The Sixth Sense, but its craftsmanship and atmosphere will stay with you for days. --Mark Englehart
From The New Yorker
A delicate, emotionally attentive, but very scary ghost story. In a Philadelphia drained of color and life, a shrink (Bruce Willis) who specializes in childhood anxieties becomes obsessed with one of his patients, a suffering nine-year-old boy (Haley Joel Osment) who "sees" dead people. The movie, written and directed by the young, Indian-born M. Night Shyamalan, consists mostly of long conversations between Willis, who is usually silent and very patient, and Osment, who may be an acting genius. Osment has the terrified face of an orphaned child of war; he is very moving. Despite an occasional hackneyed moment and too much of John Newton Howard's overbearing music, the movie is an admirable attempt at injecting some honest feeling into a curdled commercial genre, and it pays off in the end with a genuine shock that leaves one amazed. With Olivia Williams as the doctor's wife and Toni Collette, whose face often mirrors Osment's, as the little boy's loving but baffled mother. Tak Fujimoto did the somberly beautiful cinematography. -David Denby
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
Hollywood superstar Bruce Willis (ARMAGEDDON, THE SIEGE) brings a powerful presence to an edge-of-your-seat thriller from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan (Oscar(R)-nominee for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director) that critics are calling one of the greatest ghost stories ever filmed. When Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Willis), a distinguished child psychologist, meets Cole Sear (Oscar(R)-nominee Haley Joel Osment, Best Supporting Actor), a frightened, confused, eight-year-old, Dr. Crowe is completely unprepared to face the truth of what haunts Cole. With a riveting intensity you'll find thoroughly chilling, the discovery of Cole's incredible sixth sense leads them to mysterious places with unforgettable consequences!