The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense delivered one of the wildest and most unforeseen endings in modern filmmaking, and there was no pop culture crime more egregious than spoiling it. Consider this your warning while reading ahead. Starring Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense is a supernatural psychological thriller. Workaholic Malcolm Crowe (Willis), a Philadelphia-based child psychologist, begins treating a new young patient named Cole Sear (Osment) who claims he sees ghosts all around him. Crowe’s quest to help Sear find purpose in his paranormal gift leads him to finally realize, along with theaters-full of audiences, that he has been dead the entire time. 

The film contained many suspenseful and frightening moments and skirted the border of the horror genre. Early scenes depicting Osment’s encounters with the supernatural in his safety tent, and a vomiting child ghost played by a young Mischa Barton left a chilling impression on viewers. Shyamalan strategically reserved the use of the color red for the most emotionally amplified scenes, including the door to the church where Cole hides, his tent, and the red balloon that floats up to the attic during a birthday party where a ghost attacks him. 

The Sixth Sense was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Shyamalan), Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actress (Collette), and Best Supporting Actor (Osment). The Writers Guild of America rated the film’s screenplay at #50 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written. At the box office, the film earned $379 million worldwide. It was the second highest-grossing movie released in 1999, behind Stars Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace. Other notable 1999 titles include The Matrix, Toy Story 2, American Beauty, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

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