How the mighty M Night Shyamalan has fallen since this, possibly the most barnstorming debut in the past 25 years. I’d have said “except Reservoir Dogs” except that Tarantino’s film wasn’t his debut (the barely seen My Best Friend’s Birthday, the final reel of which got burnt up in a lab fire, has that honour). But then a lot of people don’t know that The Sixth Sense wasn’t Shyamalan’s debut film either; it was his third. Those hugely digressive factoids to one side, Shyamalan’s certainly most famous film to date gave us Haley Joel Osment as a young boy being pestered by unquiet spirits. The boy doesn’t like it and so ends up being once-overed by a child shrink who (it being Bruce Willis) could do with a little help himself. Now that the years have gone by and Shyamalan is no longer so white hot, it’s become a minor sport to pick holes in this, still his best film. The Sixth Sense once was seen as a classic of textures and atmospheres, but some now prefer to describe it as a thinly plotted horror flick full of tricksy lighting. Bruce Willis’s performance has gone from being sensitive and daring to another doomed attempt to broaden his range – get back in the box marked Die Hard! This is all very unfair. What about that twist ending that everyone now claims they could see coming? They couldn’t. And what about “I see dead people”? Even dialogue sensei Mr Tarantino hasn’t crafted anything with that line’s staying power. Not even “This is some fucked-up repugnant shit” (Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction, you knew that). Though Tarantino’s line is, let’s face it, funnier.
© Steve Morrissey 2013