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THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment

A truly incredible horror film, "The Sixth Sense" harkens back to "The Twilight Zone" and delivers genuine living-dead chills. Although gore hounds might bicker that it's not a slasher flick, the overall perfection of this film should win any moviegoer over. This film was released just a week after "The Blair Witch Project," and although it surpassed that film at the box office didn't receive the same notice or acclaim from the mainstream press. It's too bad, because "The Sixth Sense" is a landmark horror film, reminiscent of Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now." It's intelligent, slow-paced and unnerving. Eventually, however, the reputation of this film overcame the hype around "Blair Witch." Shyamalan became a major, major director.

Willis plays a successful child psychologist who, after being shot by one of his now grown-up ex-patients who then kills himself, is overwhelmed by a sense of failure.

He runs into a boy (Osment in an amazing performance) that reminds him of his ex-patient. The boy, like his former client, appears to be receiving messages from the dead. At first, Willis is convinced the child is suffering from schizophrenia. It wouldn't be fair to reveal anything more for the few out there that haven't actually had the pleasure of seeing it..

This was director-writer Shyamalan's first big movie effort. He would eventually make the cover of Newsweek, which would herald him as the "next Spielberg" for his 2002 film "Signs." His one film previous to "Sixth Sense," entitled "Wide Awake," was also about a boy confronting issues of spirituality and death. Willis obviously took one look at the screenplay and realized he had to be part of this project. Thank God he did, because it's doubtful "Sixth Sense" would have been such a huge hit without him.

Shyamalan would abandon the horror genre though for creepy fantasy and sci-fi. His follow up "Unbreakable" was a weak effort. There are still murmurings of a "Sixth Sense 2."

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