While not making more money than Episode I, Sixth Sense managed to do something no movie before or since Titanic has done: make over $20 million for four weekends in a row. How did a movie that lacks big special effects and a huge marketing campaign manage to pull that off, and in the latter half of summer no less?
The concept behind this movie is simple: A well-known and respected child psychiatrist, Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) takes on the case of a young boy, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). What’s wrong with Cole? Besides the fact that he seems anti-social and slightly strange, he claims to “see” dead people. Not only does he see them, but he talks to them, and they even abuse him. Crowe feels a particular need to help this child since, at the beginning of the movie, a former patient of his (played by New Kid on the Block Donnie Walhberg) who seemed to suffer the same symptoms as Cole, breaks into Malcom’s house and shoots himself. To add more to his suffering, Malcom is having trouble with his wife, who’s mad that he has no time for her because of Cole. Eventually Malcom starts to believe Cole and together they attempt to cure him of his “gift.”
It seems like this premise would make a good movie, but not a tremendous box office success, right? First of all, there’s the surprise ending. You see, the twist is. . .Well, I’m not going to tell. I will tell you this much â€“ you will most likely leave the movie thinking about how much everything makes sense after the ending. Mostly likely this would explain the incredible drawing power. People go back to see it a second or third time to pick up all the amazing little details and clues that filled the movie, which they paid no mind the first time around.
Still, a movie like Sixth Sense has the potential to fall flat on its face if it fails to be clever enough. It could easily have gone too far and ruined the ending by not giving enough hints that it would all make sense in the end. The attention to detail is one of the many elements that made the direction absolutely amazing. It has some of the best camera work I have seen in a recent horror movie. Even when you knew what was coming, the suspense was managed so well as to still scare you witless. Almost every frame in this movie is beautifully composed and helped carry the story. The wonderful opening shot, of an off-centered lightbulb that slowly turns on, allowing the viewer every detail of the wiring within the bulb glow, is a particularly good example of the director’s proficiency.
Also worth mentioning is the acting. Bruce Willis played the serious role very well, keeping his character believable and vivid. The true talent, however, was Osment. His performance was realistic and frightening. He is definitely a talented boy, who should have no problem getting himself an Oscar sometime in the future. Rumor has it he might even get nominated for this role. I’m skeptical as to whether this film, because of its inherent “scary movie” nature (and it is very scary), would lead to Oscar nods. Osment and the director, Night Shyamalan, definitely deserve them, though.
In closing this review, I would like to mention my main problem with the movie, which was the pacing. The film could easily have been shorter and not so excruciatingly slow, especially the second half hour or so. Sixth Sense is still well worth seeing, though. It’s definitely one of the better movies to come out this year.