Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Film Review: The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense (Review)
United States/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...I am leaving this film with my arm hairs wavering, a cold sweat on my brow, and a lump in my throat."

Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) genuinely tries to help Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a young, isolated boy with a disturbing secret...

The Sixth Sense follows Malcolm and Cole as their complicated relationship develops. Malcolm is a psychologist with a troubled personal life and an estranged wife. Cole is a young boy with a terrifying secret, and he's deemed a "freak" by his classmates. Slowly, Malcolm gains Cole's trust and Cole reveals his secret — he sees dead people. Initially baffled by the revelation, Malcolm soon find a way to help Cole remedy his situation. The film leads to an unforgettable and iconic ending.

The Sixth Sense is a psychological drama-horror hybrid. It's a film that uses its effective drama to amplify the chilling horror — and it does it well. First and foremost, this is a film that works on multiple viewings, but it's most effective if you go in blind for your first viewing — the less you know, the better. The story has a strong focus on the characters and their problems. It really takes the time to develop everything. In turn, for those wanting a traditional horror film, this may leave something to be desired. This is not a jump-at-you-and-boo horror film. This is a slow-burn horror film filled with unnerving tension, terrifying visuals, and a chilling atmosphere.

Personally, I love this approach. It allows the film to buildup, it allows the film flaunt its subtlety, and it gives us time to connect with the characters. I think this is one of the few horror films where I've actually choked up because of the characters and plot. Indeed, the film is as dark and stark as it is frightening and disturbing. Furthermore, this makes for one of the most stupendously impressive endings in film history — and I don't believe that's an exaggeration. It's an ending that keeps you on edge, but feels bittersweet.

The acting is fantastic. Haley Joel Osment is superb — he captures his frightened and isolated character perfectly. Bruce Willis also delivers a very charismatic performance. Toni Collette, who plays Lynn, transmits her raw emotion as a distraught mother through her performance. The cinematography is great. The music matches the mood well — there are some haunting tracks here. Writer and director M. Night Shyamalan crafts a timeless supernatural drama-horror film. The writing is creative and effective — conceptually, Shyamalan's writing is brilliant. The direction captures marvelous horror and emotion — a combination we rarely see today.

Overall, The Sixth Sense is a masterpiece. It's an incredibly effective film. The characters are vibrant and real, the drama is riveting, and the horror is chilling and disturbing. The writing and direction are superb, and the cast shine with their fantastic performances. Its slow-burn pace may turn off some audiences, but it's wonderful for those who don't mind. I'm sure there are some flaws and maybe even some plot holes here, but the film towers over them. I don't see a reason to nitpick, I am leaving this film with my arm hairs wavering, a cold sweat on my brow, and a lump in my throat. Highly recommend it.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some disturbing images.

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