When Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a distinguished child psychologist,
meets Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a frightened, confused, eight-year-old, Dr. Crowe is completely
unprepared to face the truth of what haunts Cole.


Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his wife Anna (Olivia Williams) are celebrating his recognition by the city of Philadelphia as a leading child psychologist when one of his former patients, clearly deranged, bursts in on them and wounds Crowe before killing himself. Some months later, Crowe's world has obviously fallen apart; his wife is distant, and he suspects she may be having an affair. And when he takes Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) as a patient, his troubles multiply. Cole is haunted by visions of "dead people" – the little boy is plainly terrified.

The Sixth Sense is a most unusual psychological thriller and its huge success in America is rather surprising. Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan doesn't go in for Exorcist-like horror; the thrills here are muted, but no less powerful for that. You really feel for this haunted child, and for the man who is trying so desperately to help him. There are some significant surprises in the script, and on no account let your friends tell you about them before you see the film. Bruce Willis gives a fine, thoughtful performance; Toni Collette is extremely good and totally convincing as Cole's anxious, working-class mother; but the film belongs to young Haley Joel Osment whose portrayal of the terrified child is itself truly haunting.

Margaret's comments: Night Shyamalan's third feature film has at its centre a most remarkable performance by a child actor. Haley Joel Osment is scarily mature in his portrayal of a young boy who sees dead people. But this is not a supernatural thriller in the traditional sense, it's an eerie film rather than a terrifying one. It takes you on an intriguing, unsettling journey. Bruce Willis brings rather a lot of weight to any film these days, but he manages in this to shrug off the shadow of his other film presences and deliver a performance that is measured and ultimately touching. Toni Collette seems to grow as a performer with each successive role, she's wonderfully effective here as Cole's mother.

Shyamalan's direction is assured but his use of James Newton Howard's overblown score works against rather than with the sensibilities of the film. Despite that this is a refreshingly different.