Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Sixth Sense

Touch, taste, smell, hear, and see: the complete set. But what if we had more? Would it be a gift or a curse?

The M. Night Shyamalan hit The Sixth Sense attempted to answer just that; it showed a boy that was unable to cope with having more than the usual allotment of five senses.
Haley Joel Osment plays Cole Sear who is endowed with an ability to ‘see dead people’. For Cole having such abilities has made him an outcast. He was different and it made him a target for bullies.

Adults have given him no respite either. Teachers have judged him as either mentally troubled or just insane when the gruesome apparitions he sees make it into his artwork and scribbled notes. A mother (Toni Collette) would have been the first and last resort for troubles, but Cole being an understanding boy has decided not to share his problem to his mother who was already stressed with making ends meet. But, above all else Cole doesn’t want to damage the cherished the idea that, unlike the boy, his mother sees him as a normal boy.

In comes child psychologist Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis). His early attempts a ‘curing’ the boy proved futile, because like most psychologists he was looking at emotional stress. Help was further away when Cole confides that his problems come from seeing the dead. Malcom immediately judges insanity and adjusts his treatment accordingly much to the dismay of the young boy.

“How can you help me if you don’t believe me?” said Cole.

Desperate Malcom reviews old tapes of an earlier patient who showed the same symptoms. The doctor soon founds out that he was at an error. From telling the boy that it’s all unreal he advices Cole to reach out and listen because ghosts, as they often say, all have unfinished business. The movie ends a far opposite from where it began, the scared and distraught child was finally at peace with himself.

The whole story of Sixth Sense was shown through the eyes of Malcom. But truth be told, it was the Cole, the young Haley Joel Osment who anchored the entire movie. He was crying, he shouted, he was hysterical to the point of fainting; all throughout Haley played convincingly that he was a young boy with a big problem.

In my opinion he should have won the Oscar for supporting role because it is quite a feat to be the emotional anchor of the story at a young age.

Haley’s ‘partnership’ with Toni Collette perfect, even better than Bruce and Haley’s. ‘Mother and son’ jelled perfectly. The emotion brought about by a hysterical son was matched by a mother out of her wits; crying into the high heavens, ‘what do I have to do to make my son ok’. Because of the two Sixth Sense was already on cruise control.

The Sixth Sense was also a critical hit. The movie is now one of the top favorite horror movies of all time, up there with The Exorcist.

Technically it was also one of the most unique. When other films relied heavily on blood and gore, floating knives and furniture, actors hanging from a crane; The Sixth Sense relied on perfect timing. Too perfect in fact that I felt like jumping out of my seat a few times.

I love this movie because of the impact it gave. No, I didn’t want to act or take up faith healing or fortune telling. There was a scene in the film where Cole was too scared to urinate in the night. Petrified, he looked left and right before leaving the comfort of his room and ran for the toilet as if his house was a war zone and people might take a shot at him.

He reached the toilet and went about his business when the ghost came. Well, no ghosts came in my toilet as I went in the middle of the night, but man, I was thinking about it months after the movie.

It may be laughable, I know, but picture where I live. It is an old house built in the 1950s. For as long as I can remember my mother, her parents, and her siblings had all lived here. Of the brood of nine to which my mother belonged only four are alive. My mother died in the ground floor room, behind where I am tying this review. Upstairs an uncle once lay on the brink of death before he was rushed to the hospital and thereafter expired. His portrait hangs on the wall at the foot of my bed.

In seeing Sixth Sense I wished that I didn’t have my back turned at night. The movie did not overwhelm you with the unbelievable; it gave enough to make you think it is possible that by some sick twist of fate you can ‘see’ something in the dark.

Honestly, even years after the movie I still pray at night that I will never ‘see’ anything in the dark.