I was at school when The Sixth Sense came out, and I was very excited to see it. Shame then, that a friend of mine saw it the day it came out and then strolled into the classroom the next morning shouting “BRUCE WILLIS IS A GHOST IN THE SIXTH SENSE” to anyone that was unfortunate enough to be in earshot. I was. I was in earshot.
As such, I was never able to watch The Sixth Sense as it was intended. So when I first saw it, I knew the twist all along, and you know what? It didn’t add up for me. Even as a small, perhaps clinically idiotic child, something felt off. This “twist” wasn’t right, it didn’t work.
So, on the 19th anniversary of the film, I feel it necessary to prove to the world that maybe The Sixth Sense is not the classic it’s deemed to be, and that it is, in fact, “not actually that good when you think about it”. Do I feel the need to do this because I am incapable of enjoying anything myself, so must therefore ruin any semblance of fun or enjoyment anyone else might be having? I think that maybe: yes.
Here we are:
So look, Bruce Willis gets shot right at the beginning - this is where he dies, but we are not supposed to know this. And although just before he’s murdered he puts a jumper on over a waistcoat, which jarred me intensely, I am only here to talk about the “ghost twist”, so I shall gloss over this fact, as much as it pains me to. What I’m saying is: the first ten minutes of the movie make complete sense, there is nothing wrong with them.
It’s what happens next that causes everything to unravel, and it does this immediately. The next autumn, Bruce Willis turns up - the ghost Bruce Willis - and he’s talking to Haley Joel Osment (Cole). He mentions his “appointment” - he’s a child psychologist, you see, and he’s organised an appointment with this kid, and he’s shown up for it.
How though? How, again, has this appointment been organised? Bruce Willis is a GHOST. His business number should no longer be listed, because he is DEAD. If somehow his old business number was found, then only the boy will have been able to make this appointment, as his mother cannot talk to ghosts, and if - as a professional child psychologist - Willis agreed to see this child without the permission of a guardian, he needs to be struck off immediately.
Can ghosts even use phones? Christ.
Also: how was payment sorted out? Did he trust this child to pay him in cash? Why did he not immediately cut off contact with the family when he attempted to speak to his mother about imbursement, and she flat-out ignored him, due to his invisibility, due to his being a ghost? Where are his other clients? Does he only have one client, or can all his clients see ghosts? One child can not support an entire freelance business.
Not even a quarter of the way in and it’s all gone to pot.
Anyway - he’s back in his house now, and man, his wife hasn’t said anything to him for ages. How is this not a thing? There’s a running motif that attempts to explain it, and if taken completely literally, then the small amount of scenes where Bruce and his wife are together do make sense. They never actually talk to each other - well done Shyamalan, you got us there.
But you didn’t, did you? In a two minute scene, Bruce’s wife not talking to him can be accepted, but what happens the rest of the time? He’s an absolute ghost, she hasn’t said anything to him since he died, because he’s dead. Why is he not getting angry? Why has he not left? Not a single conversation for a good number of months, possibly a year. NOT A SINGLE SUSPICION SOMETHING MIGHT BE UP.
When he’s sitting opposite Cole’s mum, why isn’t she speaking to him? Oh yeah, because he’s a sodding ghost! Why has he not absolutely completely lost it in every possible mental way? Not a single person will speak to him. What happens when he tries to go shopping? To get some food? How does he buy things? The cashier will not acknowledge him, or scan any of his items. Are the items floating when he carries them to the till? ARE THE WALKERS SENSATIONS FLOATING?
Still - forgiveness is there for anyone who might not have clocked anything amiss thus far.
However, just around the corner is the decider - there it is, the scene that knocked even my immature, underdeveloped mind off-course almost twenty years ago - the dinner scene. Bruce Willis’ wife, Anna, has come to a restaurant for their anniversary meal, although clearly, because Bruce is extinct, she has gone alone. The film tries to trick us into thinking they’re both at the dinner, because Bruce does a lot of talking, and although Anna says nothing, we deem it down to her being visibly stressed - marital problems and all. She even says “happy anniversary” before she leaves. It’s all very sneaky.
THING. IS. NO. No. Absolutely no. When Bruce turns up, he says “I thought you meant the other Italian restaurant.” But… what? So this dinner was organised then? You two organised it together, even though one of you is an invisible dead ghost? No, how were you to know she would be there? That comment about the “other Italian restaurant” suggests a conversation, an exchange, but NO! You’re dead, mate, the conversation didn’t happen!
Bruce Willis, the ghost, would not have simply turned up at this restaurant, trusting that his wife would be there at the same time, on the same day. Even if they did this at the same time, every year, he would have checked with her first - normally, to “check” with someone, you have to speak to them, which he can’t. So he didn’t check. What on earth.
And think about this: when he moves the chair, does that mean it’s moving on its own? Why is nobody freaking out over the poltergeist activity? Not a single person in the restaurant has noticed this sentient chair. The rules of the movie dictate that a ghost can move physical objects - the cupboard doors in the kitchen at the beginning, for example. So what about the chair? Help me. This is too much to go into. My head will explode.
Here’s more: can Bruce Willis walk through walls? Like, that bit where he’s sitting in the hall with Cole’s mum - did she let him in? No, that’s impossible, because even if he rang the doorbell, she would have noticed nobody there and shut the door. Unless of course, Bruce Willis exists on a different plane, and is able to ethereally move through physical objects. If that’s the case, did he not think it peculiar when he literally walked through the front door?
“Woah, that was weird. I just walked through a closed door. I’ve never been able to do that before. Maybe, just maybe, I’m a ghost,” he should think, as he walks through a solid door. But no, still thinks he’s human, the absolute cow.
Consider the scene on the bus. How did that happen? 1999 was before contactless cards, so he couldn’t have simply walked on and swiped - he will have had to give money to the driver, and that is an absolute impossibility. It’s either that or he’s a criminal who regularly and recklessly rides the bus without paying. Either way - I’m not happy about it and he shouldn’t be anywhere near that kid - terrible example to set.
Of course, once Cole reveals his secret, there is an attempt at a get-out clause put in place by Shyamalan, but I’m not having it.
Cole says, about dead people, “They only see what they want to see.” This goes some way to explaining some things - like why the basement was locked all the time, but hoah boy, does it not go any inch towards laying out to me, how exactly, a ghost organised a dinner with an alive human lady at a restaurant.
If they “only see what they want to see”, why is Bruce’s wife not talking to him? She absolutely would be, if it was up to him, right? He’d have a happy home life, wouldn’t he? Having a whale of a time? If he saw what he wanted to see?
And how does this kid know that “they only see what they want to see”? Where’s he got that from? They - as is evidenced by Bruce’s blind ignorance - are unaware of this fact, so will not have told him this, and I’m absolutely at a loss to discover how he will have deduced it for himself.
And sheesh - Cole knows he sees dead people, right, because they’re covered in blood or burn marks or whatever, but he doesn’t know Bruce Willis is a ghost? Where’s his big bullet wound? How come he gets to be the Casper the Clean Ghost? Why can’t the little twerp work out that he’s a ghost, too? And if he does know, then why not tell him! Tell him, Cole! You are withholding valuable information, here, you absolute wind-up!
It’s nonsense, isn’t it? Do you see now? Do you see how much nonsense it is? This film - the one that makes no sense - was nominated for six Oscars. Six! Even though not a single lint of it makes even a modicum of sense. I feel it’s time we reappropriate this “classic” into a low-culture midnight movie à la The Room. It contains as many mistakes and unnatural plot grievances as any of the reclaimed dreck you may find on Mystery Science Theatre. This is a bad movie.
Anyway, that’s that off my chest. I hope you agree and have now realised your mistake - your mistake of liking The Sixth Sense. You were wrong about it, I was right. Great stuff.
Right, I’m off to buy some milk - shame the bloke in my local shop is so rude. Just blanks me every time.
OH MY GOD.
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(Images: Buena Vista)