tek's rating: ¾

The Sixth Sense (PG-13)
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This review contains no important spoilers. (By which I mean I'm omitting the main one.)

This came out in 1999, at a time when I actually got to see quite a few movies in theaters (for a change), and this was one of them. (I remember once coming out of a theater and being glad that it was broad daylight. I'm like 99% sure this is the one that happened with. If I'm wrong, I can't imagine what movie I might be thinking of.) It's also the movie that made writer/director M. Night Shyamalan famous. And part of that fame is plot twists. This movie has one of the most famous plot twists ever, which I totally won't spoil. I will say that as far as I recall, I didn't see the twist coming. (Like, 99% sure I didn't.) Which I find amazing, in retrospect. And because of that, I've always wanted to watch the movie for a second time, which I finally got around to when I watched it on DVD in 2018 (nearly 20 years later, wow). This time... it wasn't quite the same experience, but it was still pretty good.

It begins with a child psychologist named Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his wife, Anna (Olivia Williams) celebrating an award Malcolm had just received. But then, they find that someone has broken into their home. A crazed man named Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg, whom I didn't recognize at all) is very upset. It turns out that years ago, he was one of Malcolm's patients, and Malcolm had failed him. So Vincent shoots Malcolm.

The story then flashes forward to the next fall. It seems like Malcolm has sort of lost his mojo, ever since the incident with Vincent. And it's taken a toll on his marriage. But he begins working with a 9-year-old boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), whose parents are divorced. He lives with his mother, Lynn (Toni Collette), who obviously loves him, but has very little time to spend with him, since she has to work two jobs. Cole has apparently been having trouble ever since the divorce (and possibly before that). He has no friends, and everyone at school thinks he's a freak. Even Cole thinks of himself as a freak. Malcolm sees some similarity between Cole and Vincent, and hopes that helping this boy will make up for having failed the other. Meanwhile, we get glimpses of how disconnected Malcolm has become from Anna, and how much that hurts him. We also see that Anna is getting closer to an employee of hers, which makes Malcolm jealous.

Eventually, like half way through the movie, Cole reveals a secret to Malcolm, which I was a bit surprised (upon second viewing) hadn't happened sooner. It might be considered a spoiler by some, but not by me. In fact, it's the most famous line from the movie: "I see dead people." Before that point, we'd seen some strange things, I guess, but we certainly hadn't seen any ghosts. But after he reveals it to Malcolm, we do get to see the dead people that Cole sees. Of course, Malcolm doesn't believe him, at first. He just thinks it's part of whatever is wrong with the kid. But later, he listens to an audiotape of a session he'd had with Vincent years ago, and... that leads him to believe Cole. So he tells Cole that the ghosts just want help, even if they're scary. And then, Cole does help the ghost of a girl named Kyra (Mischa Barton). Now that Cole knows how to deal with ghosts instead of fearing them, it seems he'll be okay, and doesn't need Malcolm anymore. This also leads to a stronger relationship with his mother. As for Malcolm's issues... well, those end up being resolved, as well. (I mean, he's obviously got his mojo back, right?)

Erm... and well... uh... I don't know what else to say. Probably I could say a lot more, if I weren't trying to protect the major plot twist. So I feel rather constrained, here. It's hard to explain why the movie is as good as it is. And also, why it's even scary. This could have been the sort of thing I'd just file under "supernatural" instead of "scary." Honestly, most of the movie isn't scary. Even the supernatural bits are actually a pretty minor part of the plot, and they're not the scary part, really. It's mostly a psychological movie. The scary part basically comes from sympathy for what Cole's life is like, most of which we never see. And the fact that for most of the time, he can't share the truth with anyone, so he's basically alone. (Which... is rather hinted at by something Vincent said in the first scene.) And, yeah, now I guess I really should shut up.

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