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The Sixth Sense (1999)

Not every gift is a blessing

Directed by:

M. Night Shyamalan

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Nine-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a bit odd. He wears specs without any lenses in them. He sleeps underneath a makeshift tent in his bedroom. In school, he draws pictures of people being stabbed in the neck with screwdrivers. Oh yeah – and he sees dead people. Literally.

Sounds like a case, if ever there was one, for award-winning child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). Crowe looks like the best bet Cole has of exercising his chilling brand of demons – but, as gradually becomes apparent, the good doctor has a few issues of his own to deal with.

There’s not really a lot you can say about the plot of ‘The Sixth Sense’ without giving too much away to the first-time viewer. Upon its original release, this movie set tongues wagging as a result of its mind-blowing twist – which, if you know what to look out for, can actually be seen coming a million miles off. To that end, it’s in many ways a much more fascinating experience the second or third time round.

This is a dark, eerie tale, but for all its ghostly subject matter it’s more likely to stick with you for its psychological effect than any instances of outright horror. Osment’s face is normally enough to give this reviewer the heebie-jeebies at the best of times, so in an environment as spooky as the one created here by M. Night Shyamalan, he’s the perfect choice. Willis, meanwhile, produces a performance similar to that in another Shymalan flick, ‘Unbreakable’. It’s easy to see him as someone of limited acting ability, but these are just two examples of him proving otherwise.

‘The Sixth Sense’ certainly isn’t perfect. Despite a section in the DVD extras crowing about how meticulously various “rules” were applied, there are undoubtedly plot holes to be found. What’s more, parts of the film are overly-punctuated with music at times when chilling silence would seem more appropriate. But the overall story, impressive acting and incredible direction make this a must-watch DVD.

It's Got: Donnie Wahlberg taking a leaf out of his brother’s book and showing us his pants.

It Needs: To be watched more than once, particularly if you’re one for hunting down the many clues hinting at the end result.

DVD Extras 2 Disc Collector’s Edition DVD. Reflections from the set, Between Two Worlds, the storyboard process, music and sound design, Reaching The Audience, Rules & Clues, deleted scenes, publicity, filmmaker & cast biographies. DVD Extras Rating: 9/10

Alternatives:

Signs, Unbreakable

Summary

Flawed in places, but essentially a fascinating film full of shocks, atmosphere, heavily-religious symbolism and one of the all-time classic twists.

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