The Sixth Sense
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Time Out saysWriter/director Shyamalan's sombre shocker was a massive sleeper hit in the US, proving that jaded mainstream audiences have an untapped appetite for disturbing, grown-up horror. Reminiscent of Polanski's Repulsion or Rosemary's Baby, it generates an insidious, incremental horror. Also, its scares grow out of carefully delineated human relationships, their immediate impact matched by a deep emotional undertow. Eight-year-old Cole (Osment) whispers his secret to shrink Malcolm Crowe (Willis): 'I see dead people.' But why have these purgatorial souls made contact with this bright, ultra-sensitive boy? Osment's extraordinary, moving portrayal of the brave but bewildered Cole might have unbalanced the film had not Willis, as the obsessive shrink, given his most subtle, sympathetic performance to date. Haunted by his failure to help a former patient, Crowe is oblivious to his estranged wife's emotional needs and desperate to redeem himself by saving the boy. Tak Fujimoto's muted colour photography imbues the everyday interiors and evocative Philadelphia locations with a gloomy but never depressing atmosphere. Similarly, the tone of the understated direction is melancholy rather than maudlin. A poignant study of the searing pain caused by loss, this all-too-human horror film provokes tears as well as fears.