Posted: 09/10/1999

 

The Sixth Sense

(1999)

by Kate Bishop



Try saying that six times fast!


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In the currently popular horror film The Sixth Sense, the paranormal is introduced to the viewer through the eyes of eight-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). In school Cole is ridiculed and harassed for not knowing how to harness his fears. Early in the story, some books are introduced which proclaim that children and animals have more heightened senses than those of other humans. Supposedly, they are intuitively inclined to pick up what others may take for granted or that which is commonly overlooked. This is where we are introduced to the child psychologist - Dr. Malcolm (played by Bruce Willis) — who, fortunately for our story, believes in the child’s extrasensory abilities. Dr. Malcolm, it seems, bears the weight of his own guilt as a neglectful parent from a past life.

As the film progresses Dr. Malcolm and Cole develop a sense of trust and share some deep inner soul-searching while joining on a crusade of defining the existence of ghosts in the little boy’s life. Once these supernaturals are discovered, Bruce Willis feels redemption and peace in his own nonexistent life. I guess it’s not hard to learn to live with ghosts, after all. I mean, have you stopped to take a good look at the people around you?

Did I like The Sixth Sense? I’m not sure. It’s not a great horror film. But I don’t think there’s been a great horror film in a long time. It’s amusing enough, I’d say. If you’re in the mood for some popcorn.

As we near the end of this century I wonder, “Why are all these horror movies coming out now?” After sitting through what seemed to be a half-hour’s worth of horror movie previews, I came to realize the irony of this juxtaposition. What’s the rush? What does this mean to the new century of cinema? Are we going to expand our minds beyond what has already been done before? Will filmmakers and actors find new stories and new ways of shocking the audience? If these films are any indication, I think it’s going to be pretty boring.

Kate Bishop is a graphic artist and writer in Atlanta, GA.



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