Monday, August 06, 2018

Does This Make Sense?

The Sixth Sense came out 19 (!) years ago this day.  It was the kind of surprise blockbuster that makes the movie racket an exciting and confusing business.  I'm not going to bother with a spoiler alert here, since everyone knows the film's secret and if they don't, I think we've passed the statute of limitations.

I saw it when it came out and haven't felt the need to watch it since.  Many watched it a second time to see how M. Night Shyamalan cheats in scene after scene by having Bruce Willis in the action without actually interacting with anyone other than Haley Joel Osment.  I've never watched it all the way through a second time partly because I came in the first time already knowing the secret--no one told me, exactly, but one friend had guessed the surprise ending and pretty early on I could tell he was right.

Here's the problem I have with the plot.  Willis is child psychologist Malcolm Crowe and Osment is Cole Sear, a child who sees dead people.  The psychologist has Cole work through his problem by listening to what the dead people want and helping them with unfinished business, rather than fearing them and fighting against them.

This is horrible advice. If Cole imagined he saw dead people, perhaps performing tasks for them would be a way of working out his psychological problems and making them go away.  But he sees honest-to-goodness ghosts (like Malcolm himself) and does them actual favors.  Which means it will never end.  Dead people will hear about this little kid who can help them, and he'll be inundated with requests for the rest of his life.  The kid is doomed.  Thanks, Malcolm.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

My reaction was a bit different. I liked the movie a lot when I watched it, and when I thought about it for the next week or so.

But Shyamalan's movies don't stand the test of time very well. I never thought of the logical flaw you pointed out... and yet, like you, I never had any desire to re-watch it. There are movies with an amazing twist that are still great movies on rewatching (Fight Club and Deathtrap, for example), but Shyamalan's movies seem to focus entirely on the twist.

But on the up side, The Sixth Sense is probably Shyamalan's best movie. (Compliment or slam? you be the judge.)

1:21 PM, August 06, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, so you're anti-dead people? Typical Trump supporter.

4:50 AM, August 07, 2018  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Horror movies I tend to think are more about atmosphere than plot or twists- not to say they are not an important piece of structure to hang your atmosphere on- just a little bit secondary.. I think I figured this one out about halfway through when I originally saw it but was mainly interested by the ugly creepiness of the mood.

6:32 AM, August 07, 2018  

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