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The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense  

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  1. 1. Does "The Sixth Sense" belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      8

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  • Poll closed on 03/01/19 at 08:00 AM

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8 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Ohhh Let The Right One In and A Girl Walks Home are awesome!!  If those, and The Sixth Sense, are horror -- I guess maybe I am a horror fan.  I tend to think of horror as the bloody murderer disgusting stuff.  Like, there's a difference to me between "Scary" and "Horror."  But maybe there isn't?

Yes! There are sooo many horror categories! Slasher, torture porn, supernatural, etc! Like I haaaate torture porn with a fiery passion but I still consider myself a big gigantic horror fan! Do you like The Ring at all? That's another one from the early 2000s that I love and scared the SHIT outta me when I was younger. Legit thought I would die after 7 days just for watching that movie lol.

I also think that psychological thrillers can border that line too, like Black Swan mentioned in this episode. Now that is one that has scary elements to it but I would absolutely not count it as a horror because they are more trying to fuck with your head rather than outright scare you. I put The Invitation and Nightcrawler into that category as well, but even psychological thrillers could theoretically get put under the horror umbrella if you think about it too hard lol.

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9 minutes ago, Cardboardbelt said:

Despite the quibbles some people are sharing here, I do think this is a really good movie.

Definitely.  I think the confusing (or maybe even great!) thing about The Sixth Sense is it does mix the things all together, so labeling it any one is confusing. That's why I first mentioned it.  It seemed like, "hey it's a great horror movie" was severely underplaying it. This movie, in particular, is a bunch of things all together. That's what I like about it.  I still think it's flawed though (and I've seen like 2 other Shyamalan movies).

I haven't seen The Ring!  I'll try to check it out. Scary isn't really what I'm usually ever drawn to, but psychological (and vampires)... I love those. 

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2 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I haven't seen The Ring!  I'll try to check it out. Scary isn't really what I'm usually ever drawn to, but psychological (and vampires), sure.

I think if you like A Girl Walks Home and Let The Right One In then you would find enjoyment in The Ring. It's definitely got flaws that I noticed more as an adult, but in my opinion it's a really really well made horror movie with some legit scares. I haven't even seen the original Japanese version yet cause I know that will be just as terrifying to me now as The Ring was when I was 13.

Also on the recommendation side of things I think you would enjoy The Tale of Two Sisters from South Korea. It got remade here as "The Uninvited" but the American version was literal shit but the Korean version is amaaaazing. Very psychological with some good scares as well.

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On this movie. I think it's very good and well-made. At the time I thought Shyamalan was a filmmaker with a lot of promise and I was excited to see what he'd do next. He spent a good amount of time squandering that promise, but that doesn't necessarily speak ill of this effort.

I don't think it's a Top 100 movie of all time. I can think of many better movies in the "horror" or "supernatural" genre (The Exorcist definitely deserves a spot if this does). Once you know the twist, I think the movie is still good but it loses something -- the thematic content (IMO) isn't quite robust enough to elevate it to the level of greatness. I don't see where it's saying something profound about art or movies or the human condition. It's just a neat story, well-filmed. Worth praising, but a pretty common thing in the long history of cinema.

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6 hours ago, taylorannephoto said:

I believe that horror has different subsets just like any other genre has. Not all comedies are the same and neither are all dramas, but I definitely wouldn't put either Crimson Peak nor Shape of Water into the horror genre just because it has supernatural elements to them. But I still would put The Sixth Sense into the category because even in the drama sense of it I still find it rather terrifying. It's terrifying as a mother to not have any clue what's happening to your child and then find out he can see dead people, and it's terrifying that a mother would have the ability to kill her own children for attention. It's not just the ghosts that make this scary in my mind, it's the real world aspects as well. I compare it a lot to The Witch, which a lot of people got PISSED at because they said "nothing scary happens," but in my mind the unnerving aspect of watching this family turn on each other and lose themselves to the witch is absolutely scary. Jump scares shouldn't be what makes something into a horror film imo.

But with Get Out specifically, Jordan calls it a horror film so I think that out of that no one really gets to tell the creator otherwise.

You're probably right. I haven't seen this since theatres. So, a lot of nuance or horror elements are probably lost on my memory. If someone wants to call this horror, I'm not going to push hard on it. It's one of those where it walks that line between two genres and I felt it fel more on drama than horror.

4 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I think that might be what kind of disqualifies it as a horror movie in my mind. In a horror movie, it's the supernatural/fantastical elements that actively cause harm to the protagonists. The ghosts in The Sixth Sense aren't trying to do that, similar to the one in Crimson Peak or the monster in Shape of Water. In something like Get Out, the fantastical element is the hypnosis/body transfer, and that is a deliberate harm to the protagonist.

Maybe the one exception in this movie is when HJO gets locked in that small closet and comes out with bruises, but even there I think the suggestion is that the ghost is trying to communicate, and the harm is inadvertent.

I have to disagree with this. I don't think horror needs to be scary due to supernatural horror. The Strangers, Them (the French movie, not the mutant ant movie), Jaws, many slasher movies, etc. don't have supernatural elements and are all horror movies to me.

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T-T-Triple post. I'm blaming all these on a spotty internet connection.

 

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2 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I have to disagree with this. I don't think horror needs to be scary due to supernatural horror. The Strangers, Them (the French movie, not the mutant ant movie), Jaws, many slasher movies, etc. don't have supernatural elements and are all horror movies to me.

I think you might have misunderstood his point. Even in the ones you gave as an example there are still fantastical qualities trying to harm the protagonists. e.g. giant shark, masked murderers, hooded murderers lol.

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2 hours ago, taylorannephoto said:

I think you might have misunderstood his point. Even in the ones you gave as an example there are still fantastical qualities trying to harm the protagonists. e.g. giant shark, masked murderers, hooded murderers lol.

Yes, exactly. I specified that it could be some fantastical (not necessarily supernatural) element that creates the horror. A shark as large and bloodthirsty as the one in Jaws qualifies, to my mind.

Maybe human killers are an exception, though again horror movies tend to involve some kind of heightened, extreme version of one. When you remove the fantasy elements it tends to become more of a thriller or police procedural (like Zodiac).

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4 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Yes, exactly. I specified that it could be some fantastical (not necessarily supernatural) element that creates the horror. A shark as large and bloodthirsty as the one in Jaws qualifies, to my mind.

Maybe human killers are an exception, though again horror movies tend to involve some kind of heightened, extreme version of one. When you remove the fantasy elements it tends to become more of a thriller or police procedural (like Zodiac).

Ok. My bad. I definitely misread what you meant then. Although this does bring up something I've never been able to verbalize:  what is everyone's take on the difference between a horror film and a thriller?

I've held for a long time that a horror film intends to scare the viewer and a thriller intends to make them tense or maybe suspenseful. In some cases this is a really nebulous line like Silence Of The Lambs or The Game or Funny Games.

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I signed up to the Earwolf forums to get this story off my chest...

In the early 2000's a couple of years after the Sixth Sense was released, a friend and I were cruising the local video store for something to watch. In the "Manger's Recommendations" section was this movie. We'd heard good things about it and neither of us had seen it. I remember being vaguely aware that it had some sort of twist but no idea hat it was. 

Well we got home, prepared snacks and turned on the TV and VCR. As I was inserting the cassette in to the machine a local (Australian) comedy talk show was on and one of the hosts said "That would be like me telling someone who hasn't seen the Sixth Sense that Bruce Willis was dead from the beginning!".

I just turned to my friend and said "You've got to be fucking kidding me!". Remaining ignorant for years, only to be spoiled literally seconds from watching the movie. While I still enjoyed it, I couldn't help but feel a little cheated of the surprise reveal. 

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6 hours ago, grudlian. said:

Ok. My bad. I definitely misread what you meant then. Although this does bring up something I've never been able to verbalize:  what is everyone's take on the difference between a horror film and a thriller?

I've held for a long time that a horror film intends to scare the viewer and a thriller intends to make them tense or maybe suspenseful. In some cases this is a really nebulous line like Silence Of The Lambs or The Game or Funny Games.

I would agree with your definitions there. I wouldn't put SotL in the horror category but I get why some people would. I think a lot of it also boils down to what scares people. Earlier I mentioned that I thought Nightcrawler could border those two lines because Jake Gyllenhaal is genuinely terrifying in that movie. It's a real world movie but our main character is legitimately a monster, so in my mind it could easily go from thriller to horror if it wanted to. Recently I saw someone put What We Do In The Shadows on a horror list on Letterboxd and I got really confused because out of all movies I would wholeheartedly say that is NOT a horror. Just because it is about vampires with a werewolf cameo doesn't make it any less of a comedy, more so than Shawn of the Dead even! Now that one still has horror moments that I could see people put that onto the list but WWDitS is strictly comedy in my mind.

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12 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I would agree with your definitions there. I wouldn't put SotL in the horror category but I get why some people would. I think a lot of it also boils down to what scares people. Earlier I mentioned that I thought Nightcrawler could border those two lines because Jake Gyllenhaal is genuinely terrifying in that movie. It's a real world movie but our main character is legitimately a monster, so in my mind it could easily go from thriller to horror if it wanted to. Recently I saw someone put What We Do In The Shadows on a horror list on Letterboxd and I got really confused because out of all movies I would wholeheartedly say that is NOT a horror. Just because it is about vampires with a werewolf cameo doesn't make it any less of a comedy, more so than Shawn of the Dead even! Now that one still has horror moments that I could see people put that onto the list but WWDitS is strictly comedy in my mind.

This kind of stuff why I thought Syncasey was arguing horror movies have supernatural stuff. So many people think that having a monster automatically makes it a horror movie. What We Do In The Shadows is most definitely not a horror movie.

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21 hours ago, taylorannephoto said:

 in my mind, it's the real world aspects as well. I compare it a lot to The Witch, which a lot of people got PISSED at because they said "nothing scary happens," but in my mind the unnerving aspect of watching this family turn on each other and lose themselves to the witch is absolutely scary. Jump scares shouldn't be what makes something into a horror film imo.

 

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Man, I love The VVitch. Put that on my AFI Top 100 list. Also, when we're talking horror films not on this list, The Exorcist, but that's a whole different discussion

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Gosh, The Sixth Sense scared me when I first watched it.  I literally did not go to the bathroom in the middle of the night for a few days after 😂

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40 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Gosh, The Sixth Sense scared me when I first watched it.  I literally did not go to the bathroom in the middle of the night for a few days after 😂

I should save this for a couple weeks, and I'll say more then... but that was me with E.T. 

(To be fair, I was like 6.) 

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1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

I should save this for a couple weeks, and I'll say more then... but that was me with E.T. 

(To be fair, I was like 6.) 

(I was not 6 🤦‍♀️)

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Re-watching this, I was really disappointed with how things turned out with Cole. I just can't buy that Bruce Willis helped him all that much. So, in order to make the ghosts "go away" he has to help them finish their business? Does that mean he has to go running around town all the time tying up loose ends for the dead? Also, I feel like they just wrapped that whole thing up too quickly with the Mischa Barton story. You have all this build up to whether Bruce Willis believes Cole, and what they're going to do to help him, and he does one ghost a favor and zip-zap-Bob's-your-uncle, and we're done! 

Also, just a nit pick about the "mayor's award" at the beginning. Psychologists get awards for research and education. They don't get awards for being great therapists. Why? Because therapy is confidential. It's not like you can say so many people were this sick and objectively measure how much better they got. And why would the city be giving him an award unless he worked for social services? It's a bunch of hogwash just to build up Bruce Willis's cred as a therapist and it's unnecessary. 

In all, I think the film is just okay once spoiled. I don't think it bodes well for anything more than one additional viewing to catch what you missed. Cole is by far the best thing about it. He was amazing! Otherwise, the characters are really two-dimensional. We don't even get to know what Cole's mom does, or anything about her relationship with her mom. We also don't learn anything about Bruce Willis's relationship with his wife apart from what we see in the wedding video. How are we supposed to care about their relationship when there's no basis to understand how much they loved each other in life. I feel like a lot must have been left on the cutting room floor. I can see how the movie gets high marks for the cleverness of how the twist is played out, how young Shyamalan was, and how it left a mark on pop culture. But top 100? I don't think it really belongs there. I don't see it doing anything really significant or moving the art form forward in any substantial way. 

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OK, I love the podcast, like A LOT, but Ugh, I strongly dislike this film.  I think it exemplifies everything that a modern American moviegoer would think makes a good/great movie - a great twist.  Knowing the twist ABSOLUTELY destroys this film, and it has little to explore beyond the twist.  Citizen Kane has a twist - spoiler: Rosebud is a SLED!, yet the twist is sprinkles on an already great sundae as opposed to the sundae itself (I'm sure there is an empty calorie analogy in there somewhere).  Shawshank is the same, the twist only punctuates a fantastic film.  One of my favorite critics, Jonathan Rosenbaum, while reviewing "Memento", which I like much better than TSS, said it was "more a puzzle than a meaningful story".  I feel that applies here.  To me, The Sixth Sense is a one trick pony.  

On a side note, both Amy and Paul are getting "trope" happy.  They are in love with that word I guess, but it's a goofy word that I haven't heard outside of the podcast in my life.  They use it in almost every episode it seems.  I like Amy's foul mouth though, more of that!!!

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3 hours ago, Hashtag Film said:

Knowing the twist ABSOLUTELY destroys this film, and it has little to explore beyond the twist. 

I really disagree with this.  As Amy and Paul pointed out, the film is about communication: between Malcolm and his wife, between Cole and the ghosts, and most markedly in my opinion, between Cole and his mother.  Their relationship throughout most of the film is cute, but it's built on lies.  (Case in point: one of their happiest exchanges in the movie is when they're making up stories about what happened to them that day.)  To me, the climax of the film is the scene in the car, where Cole finally has the courage to share the truth with his mother, and his mother, while skeptical, finds the compassion to accept his truth.  Upon this week's rewatch, I found myself thinking that if the movie had ended at that scene, it still would have been great.

As much as I think that the twist is one of the all-time great twists, it almost ends up doing a disservice to the rest of the film because it's the main thing people remember and the main thing people think about when watching.  But I absolutely think there's a great film surrounding that.

Whether it's a top 100 film... that's tougher to say.  I think there are probably better films that could have taken its place on this list, but I'd call it a shoo-in for top 200.

6 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Re-watching this, I was really disappointed with how things turned out with Cole. I just can't buy that Bruce Willis helped him all that much. So, in order to make the ghosts "go away" he has to help them finish their business? Does that mean he has to go running around town all the time tying up loose ends for the dead? Also, I feel like they just wrapped that whole thing up too quickly with the Mischa Barton story. You have all this build up to whether Bruce Willis believes Cole, and what they're going to do to help him, and he does one ghost a favor and zip-zap-Bob's-your-uncle, and we're done! 

This is a great take.  As much as I like the film, its narrative weakness is 100% the "resolution" between Cole and the ghosts.  Like, that ghost in the attic that beat the shit out of him for no reason is going to talk out his problems with this kid?

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7 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Also, just a nit pick about the "mayor's award" at the beginning. Psychologists get awards for research and education. They don't get awards for being great therapists. Why? Because therapy is confidential. It's not like you can say so many people were this sick and objectively measure how much better they got. And why would the city be giving him an award unless he worked for social services? It's a bunch of hogwash just to build up Bruce Willis's cred as a therapist and it's unnecessary. 

 

I agree a lot with your take, and specifically this. It's because overall that opening scene is so forced and clunky. It's clear that the "real" movie the director/writer was interested in was the middle part and its famous twist, and anything to get there more quickly can be hamfisted in. 

I saw the movie several times in my early days, and as a budding young film aficionado, those "obvious" cinema techniques that Paul claimed were a bit hackneyed seemed so revelatory to me at the time. Like being in on the twist ending, I felt I was "in" on seeing the film-as-art at a more sophisticated level. Now, after seeing the film again for after like 20 years or so, these things seem so first-time-film-student. In particular, the opening dialogue and exposition was just so, uh, lifeless, and inorganic.

That being said, I was still completely absorbed by the story and HJO's acting was sweet and sincere. That scene when he shares about the grandmother with his mom was still pretty emotional for me. The film isn't about the horror tropes or the twist ending, it's about connections and "communication" as the podcast talked about. 

Since I add the films to my Letterbox list one at a time right before I listen to the podcast, this one gets added about in the middle so far. As more films are discussed, I imagine it will filter down a bit, but as hackneyed as a lot of it is, it's still worth being on the 100 list. (An updated 2018/2020 list? Maybe not.)     

 

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A couple other notes I took while re-watching:

-- I still can't get over the bad exposition of the first scene. Please hold this up as a what-not-to-do for budding screenwriters. Ditto some other times at the school, when the boyfriend was moving furniture... hm. Actually a lot. 

-- One of the first "ghost" scenes was in the kitchen, a oner that followed the mom from one room to the next, switching from a steadicam to shakicam. Not an unsubtle trick but it still felt unsettling. The Blair Witch Project was also 1999 so maybe there was something in the air about supernatural = shakey cam

-- Why didn't the mom never notice the ghosts in the photos in the hall before this? 

-- If the wife ever went to the basement, would she have seen dictionaries opening themselves and pens moving to write in notebooks? For a ghost that can't manipulate anything, there's a lot of object work.

-- The subtitle for this movie was going to be "Bruce Willis sits down a lot." 

-- When are we going to get a Sixth Sense and Ghost teamup? Where HJO and Whoopi Goldberg have to team up with a little help from Patrick Swayze and Bruce Willis. 

-- Queer Theory time! Cole is an outsider who sees the world differently, is bullied and marginalized for not fitting in, and is redeemed by coming to terms with himself and coming out to his mother, after which the world is restored. 

  

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12 hours ago, Quasar Sniffer said:

 

Man, I love The VVitch. Put that on my AFI Top 100 list. Also, when we're talking horror films not on this list, The Exorcist, but that's a whole different discussion

Still haven't seen The Exorcist. And still haven't seen Rocky. But that's a whole different discussion from the other different discussion we're not having.

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19 hours ago, Hashtag Film said:

On a side note, both Amy and Paul are getting "trope" happy.  They are in love with that word I guess, but it's a goofy word that I haven't heard outside of the podcast in my life.  They use it in almost every episode it seems.  I like Amy's foul mouth though, more of that!!!

That's really interesting that you've never heard that outside of this podcast. My friends and I use that word all the time, before this podcast even started. Tumblr back in like 2010 taught me what a trope was and that's when I started getting into discussions about them. I promise that most writers and film/tv critics use that word constantly lol.

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I haven’t listened to the ep yet, but I’m shocked (SHOCKED) how high I placed The Sixth Sense on my personal list. I’m not sure it’s one of the best movies of all time, but I feel like it’s a really solid movie.

(Are we all still friends?)

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