First, a funny story: I had arranged to go out one Friday night with my friend and her fiancé. We were discussing what movie to go see. This new Bruce Willis flick called The Sixth Sense was opening that weekend. No one was yet talking about it. It sounded intriguing. But my friend decided that we should see this new Ben Stiller comedy Mystery Men instead.
Boy, did we make a bad decision.
The Sixth Sense, of course, turned out to be the sleeper hit of the summer, reviving Willis's career for the umpteenth time and providing a welcome blend of chills and real human drama.
Newcomer Haley Joel Osment plays a little boy who, as he succinctly puts it, can "see dead people". Somewhat horrified by his unique ability to communicate with ghosts, he begins seeing a child psychologist (Willis) who is dealing with his own broken marriage. Haunting ensues.
Call it boasting, but I must say that I figured out The Sixth Sense's much-heralded twist ending when I was less than halfway through the picture – in fact during the very scene in which Osment trots out the "I see dead people" line when chatting with Willis. But this didn't disappoint me or soften the film's emotional impact. In fact, now knowing how it would end, I found the story even more poignant and tragic than I would if I was still in the dark. I didn't get to gasp along with the rest of the audience during the last couple minutes (and points taken away for writer/director Shyamalan for stitching together a montage of moments from earlier in the film which spell out the twist, as if to say, "See? See how the scenes all work together to have this twist make sense?"), but I can live with that.
Although Shyamalan may be receiving more praise for his story, I think where he really shines is as a director of suspense. He really knows how to pace a scene and stretch it out for maximum tension and impact. The Sixth Sense is a satisfying experience no matter how much you already know about what happens.