The Sixth Sense (Blu-ray) (1999)
PG-13 Dir: M. Night Shyamalan | Disney | 107 min.

Review By: Matt Brighton | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

“I see dead people.”

Yes Haley, we know. For quite some time now, we have been exposed (over-exposed rather) to the mystique of this movie. A somewhat surprisingly, unexpected hit a few summers ago. Let it be said that I think Bruce Willis is a good actor, not great, but he has certainly made his mark upon Hollywood and even if he were to quit now, he would go down as a superstar–no doubt about it. This leads us to young Haley Joel Osment, who I tend to remember as young Forrest Gump from several years ago. Does this kid age? Only kidding, but I will be the first to echo Director M. Night Shyamalan’s comments in which he says the kid is a prodigy. He is. He plays his role here with the wit and wisdom of someone more than twice his age and it’s a role that not many actors under the age of 15 could pull off. So we have one of the biggest superstars in the world in Bruce Willis, we have a great little child actor in Haley Joel Osment and a story about…ghosts? Yes. I’ll be the first to admit that when everyone else was in line for The Sixth Sense, I was seeing something else (I can’t even remember what it was that I saw now), but after all the hype and hoopla, I finally decided to check it out and was sorely disappointed. I decided to watch it again when the DVD arrived, and had seen some of the bonus features from the first incarnation of this movie on DVD. I will say not to watch the bonus features before you watch the movie for the first time! They give away many secrets from the movie and while this movie’s greatest secret lies within the last ten minutes of the film; you do not want to know what it is.

I won’t be cruel in the sense (no pun intended) to divulge most of the plot. This is a tricky situation here, as this movie is all plot and build up until the final scene, so someone could mutter one sentence and thereby ruin the movie. Then again, a LOT of people saw this movie when it came out and have likewise seen it since it’s inception on DVD, so I’m assuming if you’re reading this, then you most likely know what will happen. In any case, we have a boy by the name of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who seems to be the shy, quiet type. As with most kids who are the shy, quiet type, he doesn’t have a lot of friends and mainly keeps to himself. But what is special about Cole is the fact that he does in fact, see dead people. The trouble is that no one else can see them and Cole is somewhat of an outcast to his classmates and his mother (Toni Collette). On the other hand, Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) has just been recognized by the city of Philadelphia with an Award of Excellence in the field of child psychology. Crowe, it seems, has put everything else second (by his wife’s admission) and now it’s finally paying off. I don’t want to say how, but Cole and Dr. Crowe meet and he enlists to help out Cole of his troubles. Doing what he’s best at (listening), Crowe hopes that he can work his magic Cole and at the same time, try to save his marriage.

M. Night Shyamalan was credited for both the writing and direction here, and for a first effort, the results are amazing. I do have to admit that after two viewings, the movie is a LOT better the second time around. The only complaint that I might have is that it moves at a snail’s pace (something that didn’t work for his second feature, Unbreakable) so you’ll have to be very patient and let the movie guide you. Nominated for Best Picture, The Sixth Sense is actually a pretty good movie. I suppose I can now join the ranks and say that I like the movie after saying so many times that I thought it was over-hyped. Bruce Willis may not be saving the world or shouting “Yippie Ki Yay, Mother…” from a building, but he does a good job here. The Sixth Sense conveys the right mix of mystery, suspense and horror to make you second guess if it’s a Hitchcock film or not. It’s a good ride, so be patient and let the movie guide you. You’ll be glad it did.

Video: How does it look?

I remember never being too thrilled with the way “The Sixth Sense” was shown on standard DVD, but its now been several years since Ive seen it. This 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer does improve on the older, out of date DVD though I doubt this will ever be one of those titles that looks absolutely pristine. The only problem I saw with the transfer is that it appeared too soft. The palette used is extremely dull and muted, but this is for a reason (I can’t really say why though). The color of red also has a hidden meaning to it and though the color was used very sparingly, the viewing the second time around does make sense in why they used it the way they did. I noticed a sharpness that I hadnt seen in previous incarnations, a testament to Blu-ray no doubt.

Audio: How does it sound?

The previous version of “The Sixth Sense” showcased a DTS track, but thats been replaced by a PCM uncompressed track on this Blu-ray. Ill be the first to admit that this film has never really been at the top of my list in terms of audio and though this new uncompressed track does sound better, theres only so much you can do with little or no sound effects. Dialogue is the main draw of this movie and though there are some instances in which the audio will make you jump, Id not really cite this as one youd show off your home theater with. All in all, an improvement, but not one of the main draws of the film, for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray contains all of the supplements that were present on the previous two disc standard DVD set, though no new material has been added for this HD release. We start out with “Reflections from the set” which tells of how the story was conceived, how it was made and how a studio like Disney got the chance to release it. Shyamalan seems pretty content with himself here, and rightfully so. In this new documentary, we also learn of the great lengths that actor Donnie Whalberg went through to get into his character. While his character is central to the movie, it’s a very small part (5 minutes), but whatever works…right? Next up is “Between Two Worlds” which doesn’t focus on the movie itself so much, but it more of a documentary on ghosts and their themes in the films throughout the years. William Peter Blatty is a main focus of this piece and we learn how spiritual he really is. Also shown are some other movies in which “ghosts” are a main part, including one in which it appears that has a young Shyamalan as a star…Next up is “Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process” in which Shyamalan and Brick Mason take us through the process. Those familiar with my reviews know that I’m not that fond of storyboards, but if you are then this 15 minute featurette is right up your alley. Some deleted scenes are included, though not with commentary…sort of. Shyamalan does do an intro for the series and each and every scene and even tells why it was deleted. A nice touch, I thought. I can see why they were left out, especially the extended ending which was downright cheesy; but they’re worth checking out. A publicity short shows how the advertising reached the people and the cast and filmmaker bios are nothing which we haven’t seen on every other DVD out there. The music and sound design is among one of the more interesting features, showing the use of the sound and what it took to literally make the sounds throughout the movie (a lot more than you might think). Lastly, the Rules and Clues is the most interesting feature as it tells you what to look for throughout the movie the second time you watch it. Again, don’t watch these first!

Disc Features
  • (1.85:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: AVC
  • Audio: PCM
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
The Sixth Sense (Blu-ray)

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Extras