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IN SHORT: Creepy and enthralling, with a twist you won't see coming. [Rated [PG-13], 107 minutes]
Here's the hard part about writing up The Sixth Sense. If I tell you anything that may clue you in to what is going on in this flick, I will not be doing what I consider to be my job, 'cuz I'll be giving it away. So I'm going to tell you a true set of stories to help illustrate some of the shrink stuff going on in this fine flick.
When a person goes through extreme trauma, as when I broke my neck ten years back, it is a normal psychological reaction to push away those people who remind (him) of the trauma. It could be someone who was present at the time. In my case it was "fix-up dates," all of whom had suffered some major distraction, shall we say, in their lives. They had been damaged, as had I and I didn't need to be reminded. It may seem shallow, but that's life. When my closest friend lost a breast to cancer, she pushed me out of her life by emasculating me in front of her friends. I knew what she was doing and when I couldn't stand it anymore I walked away. We haven't spoken since.
Which brings us to ace child psychiatrist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who's just been awarded the highest citation that the City of Philadelphia can give to one of its citizens. His loving wife Anna (Olivia Williams) doesn't mind playing second fiddle to her hubby's devotion to his kidlet patients. Then the good doctor's past comes back to bite him on the ass and extreme trauma kicks in.
A year later, post trauma, the normally quiet doctor has changed. He is physically and emotionally distant to his wife, misses dates and anniversaries, spends nearly all his free time with an exceptional case concerning a potentially psychotic 8-year old boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Most little kidlets have imaginary friends, but these tend to fade at Cole's age. His "friends" are terrifying him because they're not fuzzy li'l Dr. Seuss-type characters. They are the ghosts of people long dead, all of whom have shuffled off this mortal coil in shocking and/or violent ways.
Of course, he's probably nuts. He's hides in the local church, and has scratches and gashes all over his body. His mom (Toni Collette) might be abusing him, but that doesn't seem likely. His schoolmates all consider him to be a freak, and as his therapy drags on, this poor kid shrinks into a world where he is terrified beyond belief. Can the Doctor help this poor kid? And what of helping his wife? How far should your work take you from the people you love?
Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan has done an exceptional job on this, his third feature. Everything you see is presented in a matter of fact style, even the icky stuff. There may be a moment where you could feel as if you've been manipulated in standard horrorflick mode, but there's no slice 'n' dice. Nothing you see will seem out of place once you accept the fact that this poor kidlet isn't nuts. And you will. And the truth will blow you away.
Bruce Willis is doing something unusual for him. He's being a quiet man. No big action stunts, just quiet speak and doctorly concern. It's a nice change. The real find is Haley Joel Osment, a kidlet who holds the screen in a way not seen since Anna Paquin did it in The Piano.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Sixth Sense, he would have paid . . .
After the Blair Witch Project failed to scare me silly y'all wanted to know what creeps Cranky out. The Sixth Sense did. Don't confuse creepy with scary, there's a lot more going on here than I'll even hint at.
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