Let’s Talk About… ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Film #14 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies

Every week FilmExodus does a review/analysis of a different cinematic masterpiece from AFI’s 100 Movies 2007 updated list. For a complete overview and how you can participate, click here.

The Sixth Sense was ranked 89th on AFI’s 2007 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films.

Synopsis (from IMDB): “Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing a young boy with the same ills as the ex-patient (Donnie Wahlberg). Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy much to the dismay of his wife (Olivia Williams). Cole’s mom (Toni Collette) is at her wit’s end with what to do about her son’s increasing problems. Crowe is the boy’s only hope.”

As much as I love movies, there will always be that period during my adolescence when I missed seeing some modern day classics, including the Sixth Sense.

I would have loved to been able to see this in the theater, on the big screen, and write about it as soon as I saw it.

The DVD box art claims it as “the number 1 thriller of all time!”  It might not be a lot of people’s number 1 thriller but it still evokes some of the same feelings of the movies from the ’50s and ’60s like The Haunting and Psycho.

This is a movie that should be watched and almost immediately rewatched to see if you figured out the twist.  I watched the Rules/Clues Extra on the DVD again on Sunday, which I watched after my first viewing of the movie with my uncle years ago.   If this is your first viewing of the Sixth Sense, pay attention to the color red.

Speaking of the twist, it’s not really a twist if you have been paying attention from the beginning and the pivotal scene where Cole finally lets Malcom in on his secret: He sees dead people.

Four words – I see dead people.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I am including a link from People Magazine to see how this scene has been copied/parodied/spoofed in pop culture. Follow the link here.

Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment were nominated at the 2000 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.  The relationship between Cole and his mother is central to the plot of the movie and is just as important as the bond between Cole and Malcolm, played by Bruce Willis.

Bruce Willis is at his absolute best ,in my opinion, ( nothing will overtake Die Hard – I’m not even going to try to compare the two- Die Hard propelled him into movie stardom) as Dr. Malcolm Crowe . Dr. Crowe is trying to find redemption for failing to help Vincent all those years ago while attempting to fix the strained relationship with his wife, Anna.

One performance that I think is underrated and deserves to be mentioned is Donnie Wahlberg as the adult Vincent Gray.  Wahlberg is barely recognizable as the tortured man that attacks Crowe at the start of the film.  When I saw the ending credits and caught Donnie Wahlberg’s name, I was absolutely stunned.   He’s a former member of NKOTB for crying out loud. Also, Mark Wahlberg had already made a name for himself in the acting world by 1999. Who knew that lighting could strike twice in the Wahlberg family?

M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed The Sixth Sense. He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at the 2000 Academy Awards.  I’m not going to go in depth into MNS’ filmography during this post because I have already made this longer than I wanted.  I will recommend The Visit and Split as his return to form to the world of writing and directing after the bumpy road he encountered in the mid-2000s.

Another kudos that deserves mentioning is the music scored by James Newton Howard. His score will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck one minute then fill your heart and soul with joy the next.

This film deserves to be on the Top 100 AFI list.

  • It was filmed in one of America’s oldest cities, Philadelphia.
  • It spotlights the importance of family.
  • It highlights the scariness of adolescence (pun intended)
  • It adheres to the hero’s journey
  • It’s as near a perfect movie between acting, writing, and directing I have seen in my relatively short lifetime.

Release Date – August 6th, 1999 (Happy 18th Anniversary)

The Sixth Sense is rated 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars in his review of the movie.

Recommended for fans of dramas, mysteries, thrillers, and horror (although minimal – highly effective).

If you have seen it, feel free to comment and discuss down below.

If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?  WATCH IT ASAP!!!!