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When you're alone, do you ever feel like you're not?
This is the problem faced by Vincent Grey (Donny Wahlberg), even though he received counseling ten years ago. When his psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) receives local acclaim for his work with children, Grey takes exception. Breaking into Crowe's home, he expresses his anger by shooting the doctor and himself.
This incident changes Crowe's life permanently. In an effort to correct his oversight, he finds eight year old Cole (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy exhibiting problems similar to his assailant. Crowe becomes so immersed in his determination to find the answer to these patients' mutual fear of being alone, that he begins to lose touch with his once devoted wife.
Eventually Crowe earns Cole's trust, and the child confesses to seeing dead people. We begin to appreciate Cole's terror as we start seeing the world through his eyes. Unfortunately the kind of deceased people he meets are angry, troubled, physically abused, or victims of violent deaths (with the exception of his grandmother). Because these individuals often have major injuries that are graphically depicted, encountering them generates a lot of the "horror" in this film.
Nominated for various Academy Awards, The Sixth Sense relies on excellent story structure, cinematography, and acting to accomplish its goal instead of the special effects or gobs of gratuitous violence usually seen in this genre. However, parents should take extreme caution when deciding to show this film to teens. This tale is psychologically involving, includes an on-screen shooting and may even leave mature viewers with the nervous feeling that they are are not alone.
Although Cole does seek sanctuary from his visitors in a local church, viewers with religious viewpoints may be offended by the portrayal of life after death. Certainly this film does nothing to comfort anyone who has lost a loved one or is facing impending death.
Fortunately, Cole's single mother is supportive, albeit confused and scared about her son's plight. Their positive relationship, along with Dr. Crowe's love for his wife, shed some hope in this otherwise dark and suspenseful movie.
The Sixth Sense is rated PG-13:
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment
Studio: 1999 Touchstone Pictures