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The Sixth Sense
Review written by: Alex Sandell

sixth.jpg (5995 bytes)
Bruce Willis ponders the whole "cradle-robbing"

What's the story?

Eight-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) spends his life with classmates thinking he is a freak, his mom thinking he's losing his mind, and a secret that he feels would probably make everything even worse.  Cole's secret is that he gets nearly continual visits from dead people who aren't content simply lying in their graves.  It isn't until Cole meets up with the supportive Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) that he starts getting things together (too bad it didn't work that way for Demi).  Piece by piece, Cole realizes his purpose, and why dead people are always harassing him.  At the same time, the client helps the therapist, and Dr. Crowe starts unraveling the mysteries of his own life.   What both of them discover is something that you'll have to see for yourself.   (Thought I was gonna start giving away endings, like those asshole critics that think once they've seen something, everyone else in the world has to know about it, didn't you?  Not in this lifetime, pal.  If you can't wait 'til you walk into the theater, or until you hop into the video store, there's about 3,000 critics out their just DYING to tell you ALL the secrets buried within The Sixth Sense.)

So how is it? (Get to the point, already)

Oddly enough, I think that if the misleading advertising campaign is overlooked, this film will draw in more of a Ghost crowd, rather than people looking for another scare-fest along the lines of The Blair Witch Project.  The film does have a few creepy moments, but they're brief, and not the true heart of the story.  The story (which was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan) is really about the child who can't make a friend and wakes up with weird cuts on his wrists and back.  The doctor who feels he is losing his wife to his work.  The mother with two jobs, who tries her best to help her young child get through his prepubescent existence without completely losing his mind.  It's a film about a tight-knit trio of people who are all working to better themselves during a time when it seems everything can only get worse.    For at least the first 45 minutes, the worse it gets for them, the more compelling the movie becomes, and the more we hope things will actually work out. 

It wasn't until the second half of the film that I stopped crossing my fingers for the characters, and began losing interest in what was going on.  It was then that I started getting irritated with the pacing of the whole thing, and wondered if it was actually going somewhere, or was just trying to fill up the requisite two hours.  These kind of films usually have excellent payoffs, but The Sixth Sense, at least an hour into it, seemed to be an exception to the rule; a good story idea that does nothing but run out of steam and then roles the credits. 

It was a very depressing realization, one that started making me feel cheated.  How could a film with this much potential just wither and die?  The acting, especially that of Haley Joel Osment, was superb, the directing was done in the same ominous style of The Omen, the screenplay was well put together, and created real characters, not hokey cardboard cutouts like those you'd find in a film like (say it all together, boys and girls), The Haunting. But, after the basic trials and tribulations each character was going through were introduced, nothing new really happened with any of them.  It started becoming a formula:  A. kid sees a ghost B. mom gets sad about her kid C. therapist tries to help kid D. therapist realizes he needs to stop worrying about kid as much, and start helping himself.  This pattern begins going in circles so much that I wanted to take a scissors and cut it open to let it weave along its own path.  Luckily, so did M. Night Shymalan.  I should have guessed.   Would a guy with a name as unique as M. Night Shymalan actually create a mundane film with virtually no payoff?  If The Sixth Sense is any indication, I'd say, not a chance.

The film escapes the circle of tedium during the last 30 minutes, and sends itself into entirely new directions, some of which are so shocking, you'll get the wind knocked out of you, due to the sheer surprise of it all.  Not even the spectacular ending to The Blair Witch Project can compare, even slightly, to the emotional jolts you're going to feel prior to the credits for The Sixth Sense.  M. Night Shymalan was going in circles for the same reason a ride at the fair does; by the end, when you're getting out, the whole world is spinning, and nothing seems right.  Still, you'll be smiling, because it was a fun ride.  One that I'm sure you'll want to take again.  Bring some friends along, you're going to want to talk about this one.   

What does it make you feel like eating?

Cocoa-Puffs (damn product placements)

What are you selling us here???

Cocoa-Puffs, Pop-Tarts and TDK video tapes.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Best twist and turns since The Twilight Zone!!" - The Sixth Sense

On a scale of 1-10?


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Text (Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, you'll be damned to having ghosts tormenting you for the rest of your life!

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