The “Royale With Cheese” Movie Club: “The Sixth Sense”

Wait – Chuck, you’ve never seen The Sixth Sense?  With Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment?  How could you have never seen The Sixth Sense?  Did you know that there’s a twist in the end of the film, where –

No. no.  Don’t tell me.  I know this film’s been around for over a decade, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Ergo – it’s now a member of the Royale With Cheese Movie Club, and I FINALLY get around to seeing it.  And after I spent most of yesterday taking pictures around the Capital District, I decided to sit in my blue easy chair, and pop the $1 VHS copy of The Sixth Sense that I bought at the Troy thrift shop known as Pete’s Place.  Now I finally get to see The Sixth Sense.

So as I’m watching this film, I already know that this was essentially the high-water mark for director M. Night Shyamalan – the point where he became an A-list director, after which he made box-office hits like Unbreakable and Signs, and then his career plummeted after flops like The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening and Devil.

Here’s the thing, though.  I’m watching this film, and I already know the twist ending.  You figure after twelve years, somebody’s going to blab about what the twist ending was.  But what I’m trying to see in this picture is how M. Night Shyamalan – as well as actors Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment – keep us thinking that there isn’t a twist.  That we’re not being misdirected into something else.  And it’s tough.  They have to keep this illusion going for an entire two hour film – and make both the twist ending and the standard plotline make sense throughout.  There can’t be any variations, there can’t be points in the film where one would say, “Well, if Bruce Willis’ character is interacting with his wife at dinner, his wife says nothing but finishes her meal, pays the check, and whispers “Happy Anniversary.”  Whether you know the twist ending or you don’t, the scene makes perfect sense.

There is definitely a lot of symbolism in this film, especially involving the color red.  Red is nearly absent from the entire film, but you can see it on things like the doorknob to Bruce Willis’ office, or on Haley Joel Osment’s sweater when he goes to a birthday party.  It’s almost as if those shades of red are connected with the trauma that both characters share.  Or maybe I’m just reading too far into this.

There’s something else in this film – it’s not just a horror or suspense film; there’s also a very poignant subplot between Haley Joel Osment’s character and his mother, played by Toni Collette.  And in that, you see the angst of a single mother trying to raise a child with an undiagnosed and undetermined illness; and this child trying to determine his place in this world and why he has been given this gift – or curse – of necromancy.

This was a really deep film, and I’m kinda sorry it took twelve years for me to finally get around to seeing it.  But now, thanks to the Royale With Cheese Movie Club, I can finally add it to the “I’ve finally seen it” pile.