Also recommended this month
From the December 1999
Film Review

Film Review Hotline

4 Stars
Not one for the faint-hearted: Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis
M Night and his Living Dead
STARS: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams
DIRECTOR: M Night Shyamalan
SCREENPLAY: M Night Shyamalan
CERTIFICATE: 15 DISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: Buena Vista
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 54mins
OPENING DATE (UK): November 5 (London) November 12 (nationwide)

If you like high quality suspense films with a couple of surprises and tension you can almost taste, then The Sixth Sense is for you. But it is a film best seen with the least knowledge of what happens within it, so feel free to stop reading this review the moment it whets your appetite. I won’t be offended.

Bruce Willis plays a respected child psychologist shaken out of his comfortable and complacent life when a former patient breaks into his house with a gun. Malcolm (Willis) is deeply affected by this, and the failings in his consultation that led this young man to such violent measures.

A year later he senses a chance to redeem this earlier failure, with the case of a boy who believes he can see the dead, who can interact with them and is terrified of this supernatural phenomenon. At first Cole Sear (Osment) is as wary of Malcolm as Malcolm is sceptical, but they soon come to trust each other and get to the bottom of this curse, this ‘sixth sense’ that brings the dead to life before his eyes.

M Night Shyamalan’s story has a certain familiarity to it, yet the skill lies in its telling and in excellent performances from Bruce Willis, Toni Collette and Olivia Williams. But the scale of its success rests squarely on the shoulders of 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment. He plays Cole with total honesty within this heightened and increasingly tense movie environment – do not be surprised if you hear his named bandied about at Oscar time.

Simple tricks establish the spooky tone, and the audience is in on his nightmare as we get to see the dead folks that he sees. Some may, in their own sixth sense kind of way, have an idea of what is to come in this dramatic tale, but that need not spoil the enjoyment. Like a good whodunnit, the ending makes you re-examine all that has gone before, with a smile of satisfaction and the certain feeling that you have been entertained. If you sit back and simply enjoy the ride, you won’t regret it.

Anwar Brett

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 1999. Not for reproduction.
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