DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


M. Night Shyamalan
Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg
Writing Credits:
M. Night Shyamalan

A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Box Office:
$40 million
Opening Weekend
$26,681,262 on 2,161 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $20.00
Release Date: 9/30/2008

• “Reflections from the Set” Documentary
• “Between Two Worlds” Documentary
• “Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process” Featurette
• “Music and Sound Design” Featurette
• “Reaching the Audience” Featurette
• “Rules and Clues” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Sixth Sense, The [Blu-Ray] (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 8, 2014)

Sleeper: n. 1. A previously disregarded person or thing that unexpectedly achieves success, assumes importance, etc. 2. The Sixth Sense.

As my opening paragraph not-so-subtly alludes, I feel that The Sixth Sense perfectly defines a movie that's a "sleeper." The film almost literally came out of nowhere to become the second-highest grossing picture of 1999, behind only the much-better-publicized Phantom Menace.

Actually, I might argue that Sense qualifies as the most successful movie of 1999 if one includes critical reception. While not all reviewers loved it, the film certainly got much better notices than the often-reviled Menace, and it even garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.. (Somewhat ironically, neither movie took home a single award, although Sense was up for six Oscars and Menace three.)

Despite the success of Sense, it never encountered a backlash, unlike other 1999 offerings such as Menace and The Blair Witch Project. One might ascribe this to the fact that Sense was a serious "grass roots" word of mouth hit, unlike an endlessly hyped film like Menace. However, that kind of appeal doesn't prevent backlash; Titanic prospered from similar positive sentiment but eventually received a nasty reaction against its success.

I guess the lesson is that there's a limit on that kind of popularity, and a mega-phenomenon like Titanic passed it, while a less-omnipresent film such as Sense kept in good graces. How long it will remain there is anyone's guess, though 14 years after its release, it still seems to earn a lot of positive sentiment, partially due to the decline of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Over the last decade, he’s lost almost all popular favor, which oddly appears to bolster the impact of Sense, as it appears to now be regarded as Shyamalan’s main shining moment.

I've spent a lot of time documenting the financial wonders of Sense; I guess I should address my thoughts about the movie itself. I definitely like the film and think that it makes for an effective little creepfest, but I must admit that I find it considerably less stimulating after repeat viewings.

The first time around, I thought it was spooky and effective. The movie proceeds at a relatively slow but still appropriate pace, and its chills appear in more and more satisfying bunches as it goes. And yes, the ending surprised me back in 1999; even though I knew something "shocking" would occur, I didn’t guess what it would be.

Upon subsequent viewings, however, I can't say that the movie continues to do a whole lot for me. I still enjoy it and find it interesting, which is a victory in itself; this kind of film generally doesn't work well the for repeat screenings since it no longer offers any surprises, so for it to remain fairly stimulating establishes that it's a well-crafted piece of work. However, I'm just not sure how much interest it'll maintain in the long run.

Time will just have to tell, I suppose, but although I'm somewhat pessimistic, I think Sense probably does stand a good shot of providing some staying power because of the quality of the work. Shyamalan creates a spooky, thoroughly enveloping world and maintains this tone effectively for the entire film, and the cast - headed by a virtually smirk-free Bruce Willis - all provide very compelling work.

Speaking of which, special note still needs to be made of little Haley Joel Osment in his stunning performance as haunted little Cole, a kid who - as we say in the psychology biz - has some issues. Osment dazzles as Cole; he presents the character with a depth and power that seem almost impossible for a kid his age.

That quality was apparent even from the trailers for the film; I can still remember seeing the ad in June 1999 and thinking, "Why couldn't Lucas have picked this kid for Anakin?” (Apparently Osment was up for the role but when he insisted that Lucas insert the line, "I see dead Ewoks" into the script, Big George balked.) Osment wasn’t able to transition to a career as an adult actor, but at least he managed to create one of the all-time great turns from a kid.

Despite my moderate lack of enthusiasm, I still find The Sixth Sense to be a thoroughly well-made and nicely atmospheric chiller. It's definitely a film worth seeing.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

The Sixth Sense appears in an aspect ratio of approximately :1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a good but not great presentation.

Sharpness seemed crisp and clear most of the time. A little softness affected some long shots, but that tendency was nothing serious. In general, the image remained distinct and accurate. No moiré effects or jagged edges materialized, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

However, the transfer came with a fair amount of digital noise reduction, and that left the movie with a somewhat flat, waxy look. This wasn’t an “image killer”, but the misguided attempt to remove film grain left the picture with a lifeless impression at times.

As one would expect of such a dark and somber film, colors were generally subdued, but what we saw - especially the prominent use of reds - looked well-saturated and rich. The restricted palette came across as appropriate without any concerns. Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail appeared appropriately opaque but not overly so. Lose the noise reduction and this would’ve been a fine presentation, but the heavy-handed DNR left this as a “B-“.

Overall, the uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio seemed subdued but effective. The soundfield wasn't ambitious, but it provided a fairly full image. The front channels dominated the affair. Music showed good stereo imaging and presence, while effects tended to be pretty ambient in nature. A few loud jolts popped up during the movie, but mainly it stayed with quiet atmospherics that blended lightly from the sides.

The surrounds mainly tended to bolster the music. A few examples of effects cropped up from the rears, but the surrounds didn't play a very significant role in the soundtrack.

Sound quality seemed consistently good. Dialogue appeared clear and natural for the most part, with no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. I detected some background noise during a few scenes, though. These tended to occur during quiet sequences that involved Osment; I think he spoke so gently that the dialogue had to be jacked up in volume and that accentuated the noise potential.

Effects were clean and realistic, and the music seemed full and bright, with fine dynamic range. The Sixth Sense offered too unambitious a soundtrack to merit more than a "B", but it worked fine for the material.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 “VISTA” DVD? Audio showed a little more pep, and visuals offered greater definition and fullness. The unnecessary digital noise reduction may have marred the Blu-ray, but it still was an improvement over the DVD.

Most of the 2002 DVD’s extras repeated here. During the 39-minute and 14-second Reflections from the Set, we hear from director M. Night Shyamalan and actors Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, and Donnie Wahlberg. (The vintage of these snippets seems uncertain for the most part; Willis was clearly shot on the set of 2000’s Unbreakable. I couldn’t pin down the others, though I’d not be surprised to learn that Osment was taped while he made AI; he’s definitely substantially older in these bits than he was in Sense.)

The show doesn’t offer a total view of the production, but we get tidbits about Shyamalan’s early drafts of the script and discover other motivations behind the film. The emphasis highlights the processes on the set. We see some excellent footage from the set – even including a little minor friction between Willis and the director – and we get terrific insight into the characters. Shyamalan covers some of his techniques and intentions as well.

At times the documentary goes with the standard “boy, was he/she great!” palaver, but the majority of the time, it sticks with very rich information that helps flesh out the piece. Film clips are kept to a minimum as well. While this isn’t one of the all-time great documentaries, “Reflections” definitely offers a useful and compelling experience.

Billed as a “feature on the paranormal”, Between Two Worlds provides a 37-minute and 21-second look at some thoughts about supernatural topics. We hear from Shyamalan as well as Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder writer Bruce Joel Rubin, and Columbia University professor David McKenna. In addition to their remarks, we see a few clips from Sense, Exorcist, Ghost, Ladder and Shyamalan’s student films Praying With Anger and Wide Awake.

While this won’t qualify as a full examination of the subject, it’s a pretty interesting look at it. Much of the material operates from a fairly personal perspective and the participants mainly cover their own experiences and beliefs. We also hear some discussion of general theories about the topic as well as its use in Hollywood. “Worlds” offers a low-key and thoughtful discussion of some compelling material and it adds some nice depth to this package.

More than just the standard storyboard to film comparisons, Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process gives us a 14-minute and 52-second look at that work. We see a selection of boards as well as shots from the set and interviews with Shyamalan and storyboard artist Brick Mason; that section includes some glimpses of them at work on Shyamalan’s 2002 flick Signs. We get an occasional film clip from Sense and Unbreakable as well.

Storyboard to film comparisons rarely do much for me, and this sort of program offers a much more compelling discussion. We learn about how Shyamalan likes to use the storyboarding process and how it influences his movie-making. The show provides some good insight into this area and it’s a useful piece. Most intriguing moment: Shyamalan vaguely badmouths another director who he feels is too concerned with visual “acrobatics”. He doesn’t name the person, but I’m betting on Michael Bay!

Music and Sound Design gives us a brief but compelling look at that domain. During the six-minute and 38-second featurette, we hear comments from Shyamalan, producer Frank Marshall and composer James Newton Howard and we also get some isolated audio from the movie; the latter spotlights the areas they discuss. It’s a very insightful little piece.

In the three-minute, 31-second Reaching the Audience, we get some information about the process through which Sense found its fans. It provides interviews from Shyamalan, Howard, Marshall and producer Barry Mendel. This includes some discussion of the crowd’s demographics, but it’s mainly a moderately interesting piece about the serendipitous process of making the flick.

Rules and Clues covers five minutes, 59 seconds of continuity issues and symbolism. In discussions with Shyamalan, Marshall. Mendel, editor Andrew Mondshein, and executive producer Sam Mercer, we get details about the various signs we may have missed as we watched the movie, and they also go through various symbols strewn through the flick. It’s a cool and informative program.

The Deleted Scenes section gives us four excised segments, all of which come with notes from the director. Actually, the area starts with a 26-second “Deleted Scenes Introduction” from Shyamalan. Including this intro – which explains why the scenes were removed – we get a total of 14 minutes and 55 seconds of footage. None of the unutilized scenes seem terribly exciting, but they're interesting to see, and Shyamalan's comments are informative and useful.

The disc opens with ads for Swing Vote and Lost Season 4. We also get two TV spots and a trailer for Sense.

The Sixth Sense is a rare film: one that received critical plaudits and also cleaned up at the box office. Although I'm not sure how well it'll endure repeated viewings, I still find it to be a compelling and entertaining film, bolstered by some strong performances. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture and audio as well as some satisfying supplements. The transfer is more flawed than I’d like, but this is still a more than adequate presentation of an effective film.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE SIXTH SENSE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main