#48: The Sixth Sense — dir. by M. Night Shyamalan
For the longest time, I was an M. Night apologist. Up to and including Lady in the Water. It’s kind of like when Homer and Bart are chasing the pig that Lisa set free from the BBQ. It’s still good, it’s just a little slimy, it’s still good it’s still good. It’s gone, Dad. I know. I never actually watched The Happening. It was for me The Last Airbender when I couldn’t forgive him. He took something I adored and cared about and he crushed the love and light and life out of it. I was done with him then. His ego, the same massive ego that allowed him to cast himself as the savior of the world — as a writer — was pretty much what flattened my regard.
But I can still love the early work. The Sixth Sense is a goddamn good movie. Chilling. Quiet scares. Building the entire story from the front forward with so much foreshadowing. It’s a great mystery. And despite the whole “What a Twist” joke that shadows his career now, this twist is like Neil Jordan’s “OMG He’s A Man” in The Crying Game or the first time you saw bullet timing in The Matrix. Sure, it’s been parodied and copied ad nauseum. But we forget there was that brief holy shit moment. I loved, and still love, artistry behind The Sixth Sense. The performances of Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Olivia Williams.
For me, though, while everyone makes the “I see dead people” jokes. Do you not FUCKING REMEMBER the dead people he sees? It’s so goddamn genuinely horrifying because it’s done so casual. There’s just a corpse there with half its head blown in. This little boy, who gets treated like a freak for having this ability he didn’t ask for, even by his own mother, learns to cope.
Also, M. Night Shyamalan is a Philadelphia director. He sets his films in Bucks County or the outlying areas. He shoots his films in these same areas. And that always endeared him to me. I think he can get his groove back. I’m actually slightly kind of jazzed for Sundowning. This may be something Future Brian looks back at Past Brian and punches him in the temporal taint for, but still.