The Sixth Sense (1999)

Written for Luther College Chips on September 15, 1999

Yes, I know that the “The Sixth Sense” has been out in theatres for over five weeks now. Given its box office results, it’s safe to assume that most of you reading this have already seen it.  This review is for those of you out there that missed the bandwagon.

Mood-wise, “The Sixth Sense” reminded me of a good episode of “The X-Files.”  Sprinkle in some jump-out-of-your-seat shock scenes reminiscent of “Poltergeist” and flashes of “The Shining” and you have a movie that keeps you on a fairly constant edge.  The director is very witty with his camera movements and uses them very effectively in several scenes to keep the tension intact.

Bruce Willis gives a fairly typical Bruce Willis performance.  The show-stealer was really the boy in the film, Haley Joel Osment.  It can be a liability to put a child in such a prominent role as you risk a storm of controversy akin to what happened with the recent “Star Wars” film.  In this case the actor rises to the occasion, playing a role much like that of the little boy in “The Shining” (there it is again), although not going to the same extreme.

My only real problem with the “The Sixth Sense” is that there is a half-hour or so in the middle where it just seemed to amble along, not knowing quite where it wanted to go.  The scenes in this stretch would probably be considered “Characterization” scenes, but they came across as padding to me.  Don’t fear, however, as the tension kicked back into high gear.

I won’t allude to the ending, but if you’ve had anyone tell you about “The Sixth Sense,” I’m sure they’ve said something along the lines of “The ending was so incredible!”  Unfortunately, if “The Sixth Sense” hadn’t delivered as shocking an ending as it did, the whole film would have been pretty pointless.

With almost no advertising and very little publicity, most viewers have been seeing “The Sixth Sense” with no knowledge of its plot.  This was the case for me, but since those who have seen the film are very vocal about how good the ending was, much of the film’s shock was taken away from me.  Since Moid and I knew that there was a surprise coming, it wasn’t quite the same when it arrived.  It was like knowing that you were getting this really cool present for Christmas.  Come Christmas morning, you’re still ecstatic to get this great gift, but it’s not as good as it would have been if you hadn’t had a clue that it was coming.

As with most movies that I venture out to see, I had fairly high expectations for “The Sixth Sense.”  My cluster-mates saw it last week and returned with firm assertions of impending multiple Oscar nominations, including “Best Picture.”  After returning from the theatre tonight, I’ve since made drug-test appointments down at the Decorah Hospital for the whole cluster.  In all, this was a solid movie that would be worth your time and your five bucks.  However, critical praise for a film that is so heavily weighted on a final plot twist?  I think not.

D.S. Christensen
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