"The Sixth Sense" is a movie that is doing quite well at the box office with almost no advance publicity. This is to me a very reassuring sign of audience good taste somewhat alleviating my anxiety over the success of some pretty lousy ones.
It is a rare item these days, a thriller that makes you think and feel. The movie is intelligent, well-acted, well-written and well-directed, and has genuinely unexpected surprise twists.
In particular, it is a supernatural thriller where the premises are worked out in a consistent and coherent fashion. Contrast this to the egregious supernatural thrillers "Prophecy" or "The Seventh Sign" in which the metaphysics behind the plot is a hodge-podge mish-mash of rationalizations of scary moments with no believable context. I also liked the way that the plot unfolded slowly. The viewer spends anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes thinking the plot may go one way, and then the movie turns a corner into very different territory.
The story involves a young boy who has the ability to see ghosts. This disturbs him and causes him to behave in anti-social ways. He finds help in a psychiatrist played by Bruce Willis. This is the fourth movie I have seen with Willis in which he convincingly plays someone other than an action hero, the others being "Pulp Fiction", "Twelve Monkeys", and the little-seen "In Country". The boy is being raised by a single mother, and Willis becomes a convincing father-figure to the boy.
The film is subtle in its effect on the audience and develops three-dimensional characters without sacrificing suspense. This sort of thing often helps the impact of any thriller. The identical plot premise is always more scary when the characters are well-drawn then when they are poorly drawn. Make the characters convincing, and the audience can easily buy very preposterous plot premises. I regard this as a central ingredient in the success of the novels of Stephen King.
It must be mentioned that this film is highly effective with a bare minimum of special effects. There is no shot in this movie that could not have been done 25 years ago, and yet it easily holds its own alongside the egregious CGI-laden "The Haunting". I should mention that although I think "Blair Witch" a much better film then "The Haunting", I think "Witch" is overhyped. This is superior thriller to "Blair Witch" in every way.
Finally, I should say that while there are moments of gore, they are kept fairly minimal, and the director seems to want to use them for emotional impact rather than to just gross out and shock his audience.
Almost any other review you read will mention the very cool ending and refuse to tell you what it is. Suffice it to say it is one of the best endings since 1987's "Angel Heart" a similar though much grosser movie.
Special F/X A
(for being great without having any)
Agree or disagree? Let me or Jon know.
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