Old Lady Movie NightOld Lady Movie Night: "The Sixth Sense"Anne T. Donahue

Greetings and salutations! It is, your resident Old Lady (I KNOW 27 ISN’T OLD I JUST WEAR A LOT OF KNIT GARMENTS), back from her week of terrible time management to return to the open arms of you guys, who I adore. However, there’s work to be done. You know when people are like, “I had to suffer, now you have to suffer?” (That was really not meant at all to sound as creepy or threatening as it just did.) Well, welcome to the cinematic instalment.

No movie in THE WORLD scares me as much as The Sixth Sense, and no, I haven’t seen Paranormal Activity because I know it will eclipse it and that’s not a good thing.

THE SIXTH SENSE IS TERRIFYING. When I was 14, I went home from school early with a migraine and woke up hours later, where I then treated myself to a rented viewing on VHS. That, as we say in Canada, was an error. Because guess what: this isn’t some “LOL” endeavour like Scream or Urban Legend. This is about ghosts. AND YOU CAN’T SEE GHOSTS. They can be anywhere. They might be Bruce Willis. And I chose to watch this movie in the dark, by myself, which might be the stupidest thing on earth I have ever done.

Full disclosure: I am actually nervous to see it now. And even back in October when I was on the Rewatchability podcast discussing The Sixth Sense, I was a little nervous then, too. So you’re going to hold my hand and we’re going to watch this. Because I’m pretty sure the woman who plays Bruce Willis’ wife also played the bridesmaid Joey hooked up with at Ross and Emily’s wedding.

But whatever!

Sixth Sense

Let’s do this.

1. SEE? From the very first scene: basements

I AM A GROWN WOMAN. I should be able to go into a basement alone at night! But can I? NOPE. Even this evening, I had to change the laundry and I ran up the stairs as soon as I was finished because …? Why? WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED? A GHOST SHOWS UP? Maybe! MAYBE ONE DOES. And I’m not prepared. Every time I go to the antique market by my house — which is haunted — or one of my favourite cafes (which is also haunted, according to everyone who works there), I mentally say, “Hey guys… please don’t appear to me.” Because I can’t handle it. As my best friend Judiths says, “We could never be ghost hunters because we believe.”

The Sixth Sense

2. I will say that a Wahlberg just showing up in your house in his underwear would probably alarm anymore — like, regardless of whether or not he was your patient

Now here’s THE RIGHT STUFF. (#boom #dropsmic) Also, though, here’s the issue: Bruce Willis confronts Mr. Wahlberg — WHO IS IN HIS UNDERWEAR (which in itself would warrant me running into the street) — and tries to talk to him…? What? Why not just run away? He’s not even blocking the door! And then go outside and run to a neighbour, and call the police. There. I avoided the entire movie. Sorry, Haley Joel Osment. Your role no longer exists.

3. So they don’t know they’re dead?

This always bothered me, though. They don’t? They can see the people who see ghosts, but they can’t see that they’re dead? I mean, Mischa Barton’s character obviously has a mission to accomplish: she knows she’s dead. Actively. She is actually attending her own funeral. So I think here’s a wrench in the plans. Also, Bruce Willis, I bet you knew you were dead too you just didn’t want to go. So maybe phrase it to “They know they’re dead and they’re not cool with it.” Can you hear me, M. Night? You’re welcome. Yes, I will accept a job as a screenwriter, everyone from Hollywood who is reading this.

4. Phili looks amazing because of this movie, BTW

I mean, if The Sixth Sense isn’t the ultimate tourist video for Philadelphia, I’m not sure what is. MOVE OVER, FRESH PRINCE. Everything looks mighty lovely in these here parts. Particularly the old buildings (and the actors playing ghosts within them).

5. Am I the only person who would assume my kid was actually seeing ghosts, though?

Like, we have Mr. Wahlberg (Donnie?) and Cole who are being vocal in seeing DEAD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. I’m just going to go out on a limb — and maybe it’s because I believe in spirits/people who can see them — and say, “Maybe they’re actually seeing spirits.” And in that case, I would contact a legitimate medium to help them out? In no way would I think, “Wow that kid has a mood disorder.” I would think, “They are giving very detailed descriptions of bodies. That sounds like they’re dealing with some paranormal activity.” OR if you are a skeptic, “Maybe they have psychosis. Sounds like we should have more than just a weekly casual appointment in churches and outside.”

6. Who was the ghost in the basement before, though

Remember that part? The very first scene? And Mr. Willis (sure!) goes downstairs and feels cold thus signalling the house was haunted? WHO WAS THAT? And why isn’t Bruce running into him at his leisure ex. the movie Ghost? Now there’s a buddy movie just waiting to be written. Same Hollywood execs from before: hello. Here I am.

7. They’re literally showing architecture and I’m terrified

AND THE MUSIC, TOO. What is up with these violins I hate them this is scary WHY AM I WATCHING THIS. Don’t ever tell me I don’t do anything for you guys. All my lights are on and my parents are home and I know I’m still going to need to watch Morning Glory about 2592824 times before I fall asleep tonight.

Sixth Sense

8. Okay and we all jumped during the cupboard scene too YOU KNOW YOU DID

You know exactly which scene. It’s not as scary as when the ghost walks by Cole when he’s going to the bathroom, but it is hella scary because SOMETHING IS GOING ON AND WE CAN’T SEE IT. Save us, Donnie Wahlberg, wherever you are.*

*I am about 99% sure the guy in this movie is not Donnie Wahlberg. But if he is, I absolutely do deserve a prize.

9. Toni Collette is the bomb, and she plays the coolest/best mom in the world

Are we all in the same page, here? Because I hope we are. She walks into a room, thinks her kid is INSANE, and still has his back. She worries about him instead of driving him into the middle of Philadelphia and hoping he’ll figure it out. Or, say, putting him a cab where he’ll say, “Yo home to Bel-Air!”

The Sixth Sense

10. Let’s ignore the fact that Toni Collette is wearing a Walkman (!!!) in the house, and focus on the fact that ghosts keep trying to talk to a little boy?

Who are these douchebag ghosts? Can’t they pick on someone their own size? I mean, I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but would you go to a 9-year-old to relay an important message? Probably not, because we are old enough to know better. You’d find someone else. Understandably. But not these guys! Oh NoooOOOOoooOO — they’re hanging out with Cole when he’s SIX. Younger, even! What good’s that going to do, guys? (Yes, I’m talking to the ghosts now.) WHAT CAN HE POSSIBLY DO TO APPEASE YOU? Selfish. All of them.

The Sixth Sense

11. Free association writing scares me

And I’ll tell you the reason even though I don’t think I have to because I’m willing to bet you have guessed it: THIS MOVIE. What if I start writing the monologue of a ghost? I think that’s a legitimate fear, and do you know what? I can barely take care of myself let alone some random ghost, so no thank you, free association writing, I am not interested. NOT, I THINK, TODAY.

Also, shout-out to Bruce Willis who studies alone in his UNFINISHED basement in the dark (???), and circles terms like “self-inflicted abuse” in case he wasn’t sure what that was despite having a doctorate in child psychology.

12. “Stuttering Stanley!”

Okay so maybe I was wrong about the ghosts because obviously one has Cole’s back and helped him play into a poor teacher’s neurosis. Now THAT is a buddy movie I’d REALLY like to see. (“Cole and the ghost who told him things about the school he went to”) (I don’t think it would do great, but it would be a JOY to write.)

 

13. UGH THE LITTLE ROOM PART

So after I first saw this movie, I convened with my best friend Ashley (who I have mentioned 5295258 times) (and remember, as Mindy Kaling says, best friends are a tier — not some linear system), who was equally afraid of it as I was. Thus, we would go for walks around town and try to find old houses which we thought would be the most Sixth Sense-esque. And spoiler alert: those houses would all have tiny windows which we thought would house the same kind of spirit as the guy in the small cubby Cole gets trapped in. WEREN’T WE A TON OF FUN? Then we would say “I hate that house” and call it “The Sixth Sense” house and … that was it, actually. We weren’t about to start summoning anything, I’ll tell you that much for free.

Also, Cole WHY WOULD YOU APPROACH THE DOOR. And more importantly also, Tommy — the bully — was in a Barney movie I had to watch while babysitting a lot, as well as THE PATRIOT. 

And another thing: why are the doctor’s so confused about what happened to Cole in the cupboard? Would anyone else just assume he was claustrophobic and suffered a panic attack? Should I just hang out in my basement and study child psychology? (No. We talked about the basement.)

14. Bruce Willis’ face during “I see dead people is everything”

Just… perfect. His eyes don’t move, he just kind of asks questions in a “don’t freak out” kind of tone. Also, SPEAKING OF QUESTIONS, Cole just answered my question from before, “They only see what they want to see.” GOTCHA. But also, they (the ghosts) want to see Cole? I mean, he’s adorable so who wouldn’t. But I guess that’s why they just choose to stay in the places in which they passed? I don’t understand  (sung — like in that clip). But Bruce Willis’ face. That, I understand. (Sung also like in the clip, obviously.)

The Sixth Sense

15. UGH NOTHING IS SCARIER THAN THE HOUSEWIFE SCENE

When she walks by? I know. We talked about this. But here’s something less terrifying (or more, depending on what you’re into) — so the same year Ashley and I were understandably obsessed with and scarred for life by The Sixth Sense, we were in the same art class with a teacher who HATED us. I mean, we really did not get along. She actually hated our sense of humour and pretty much told us that one day. But that’s fine. So that same year, we both arranged to start new schools in September. Thus, our big joke was approaching her the way the ghost approaches Cole — but with our transfer sheets. And in the end we would shout, “NO. Our final projects are NOT ready. What are you going to do? YOU CAN’T TEACH US ANYMORE!” Which would’ve been brilliant had it happened. It did not. (But we still say it, 13 years later.)

16. In retrospect, we should’ve realized how inappropriate this doctor-patient relationship is

I mean, unannounced house calls, school visits, Bruce Willis telling Cole about his personal life — and now he’s crying to Cole about his broken marriage? His nine-year-old patient? That should’ve been the first clue (that this movie would actually end with Bruce Willis being sued for malpractice).

The Sixth Sense

17. AND WHO DOES MISCHA BARTON THINK SHE IS BARGING INTO COLE’S SPECIAL TENT

Clearly she is able to compose herself since that’s what she does during the funeral when she GRABS COLE’S LEG INSTEAD OF TALKING TO HIM. (Even though she’s able to put her mother away for murder and can form sentences like “I’m feeling much better now.”) But nope — she opts to throw up IN HIS TENT. And completely ignore the sign that says, “Get out.” Amazing, Marissa Cooper. Does Ryan or Summer know about this?

18. I did not trust soup four weeks after seeing the soup cam scene

And how could I? Basically at this point I heed the following advice: do not watch The Sixth Sense if you are in any way impacted by movies to the point of being emotionally effected by them. (AND NO THE FACT THAT I BELIEVE IN GHOSTS DOES NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS.) (Okay maybe it does.) (Either way!) Too many emotions and too many things. Not enough Bruce Wills (never enough Bruce Willis), and also why didn’t we get to fast-forward and see how Cole grew up to have a really successful career as a ghost counsellor? Would that have been too much to ask? M. Night, I don’t ask for much. But I do ask for this.

19. Let’s have a moment of silence for Mischa Barton’s creepy toys

It’s like her parents were like, “No, absolutely nothing cute or lovely. You get marionettes, and you get clowns from the Victorian era.” WHAT CHILD AFTER 1932 HAS MARIONETTES? I had a puppet from my aunt’s trip to Mexico when I was little, but I’m pretty sure my parents thought it was the scariest thing they’d ever seen. Also, puppets > marionettes, and YES there is a difference. I also think each and every one of these marionettes is haunted now, but not as much as I am by their presence in the first place. Help me.

20. But seriously the ending makes me really sad

Why can’t Bruce Willis come and visit sometimes? Why can’t Cole use his powers to stay friends with Bruce Willis? I don’t care about Bruce Willis and his wife — I care about COLE and Bruce Willis! The ACTUAL dream team. So, like they say in the movie, let’s PRETEND they are going to see each other tomorrow.

And let’s also pretend I am not BAWLING MY FACE OFF during the scene in the car when Cole tells his mom about seeing ghosts and then tells her about his grandma and how she’s proud of Toni Collette “every day.” Or that I’m not bawling upon Bruce Willis’ death scene. Evidently, watching The Sixth Sense when you’re 27 means you acknowledge all the feelings in addition to the scary music unlike when you’re 14 and just get freaked out.

The Sixth Sense

So now I’m Kevin McAllister! (“I’m not afraid anymore!”) Except much, much easier to make cry. Which makes sense. Guys, I could cry at a Die Hard trailer if I tried hard enough. And that’s my Sixth Sense.

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  1. It was Donnie Walhberg who breaks into house, so 10000000 points to you!

  2. I watched this movie with my Grade 12 class way back in the day (VHS tape, TV on a stand that was wheeled into the room, oh yeah.) The movie ended, the lights went up and everyone had bleary eyes and looking away from each other awkwardly.

  3. “Now here’s THE RIGHT STUFF. (#boom #dropsmic)” Bravo, my dear, bravo…

    I think I may go watch this movie again! During the day. When it’s still bright. With my parent.s.

    • I needed to watch an hour of Archer last night just to not be afraid to fall asleep. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME.*

      *Don’t answer that, you guys. I know it’s weird that a 1999 movie has made me this scared.

      Anne T. Donahue | 2/21/2013 06:02 am