"The Sixth Sense" Blu-ray Review
October 08, 2008 by Zach Demeter
The film that made M. Night Shyamalan a household name, The Sixth Sense turned horror films on its head, delivering not only a terrifying and thrilling story, but also a plot twist at the end that can only be described as one of the most brilliant “tricks” in all of Hollywood’s films. Although Shyamalan’s stories are now known for this trickery, The Sixth Sense remains unique since it was the first of his string of horror flicks to arrive in theaters. While the revelation is less impressive now that everyone and their mother knows the secret of this film, it doesn’t make watching it any less enjoyable—it still remains enthralling to this day.
When Dr. Malcolm (Bruce Willis), a distinguished child psychologist, meets Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a frightened and confused eight-year-old, Dr. Crowe is completely unprepared to learn what truly haunts young Cole. As the depth of Cole’s incredible sixth sense is discovered, both Dr. Crowe and Cole are led into intense and mysterious encounters that have unforgettable consequences. The Sixth Sense also stars, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg and Peter Tambakis.
I was one of the unlucky to have the film spoiled for me prior to seeing it so I’ll never know the wonder of watching this film unknowing, but that was my own fault. I’ve always been wary of horror films simply because I’m a big baby (or I thought I would be, anyway; I’ve watched some supposedly “terrifying” films and I’ve very rarely jumped, so maybe I’m not actually all that terrified of poltergeists and axe murderers) and I never gave this film a second thought as to viewing it until I’d watched Shyamalan’s entire catalog before realizing I hadn’t seen the film that made him famous. Although his recent run of films has been getting negative press (I’ve yet to see The Happening, although I did see Lady in the Water which was…erm…strange), there’s no denying the man doesn’t have a knack for storytelling. You’ll be hard pressed to not at least be entertained by the premise and mystery of his films before the big twist at the end happens and you end up yelling at your TV. With The Sixth Sense, it’s not like that; you do truly believe the events that occur and it all just gels in a way that Shyamalan has not made possible since (although I do find Unbreakable to be his best).
Even going into the film knowing what was going to happen still made it entirely enjoyable the first, second and third time I watched it. The characters themselves, flawed and human and suffering from various ailments, all remain as enthralling to watch and the rest of the film plays out in a different way when you know the final outcome. It’s an engaging film regardless if you know what the big secret is and you even get to pick up on little nuances that point toward the big reveal in the film. After watching it again knowing the ending, you actually begin to wonder how you didn’t know what was coming. I’m happy to say all of this because I really enjoyed the film and repeat viewings don’t weaken it and in some ways strengthen my respect and love of the film. It’s supremely crafted in just about every way.
Of course the film wouldn’t be a shadow of what it is if it wasn’t for the actors. Haley Joel Osment’s performance is astounding and Bruce Willis shows a range of motion that you wouldn’t expect from someone who spent his early years yelling “Yippee-kai-yay” at bad guys. The performances are what really sell the film and there isn’t a weak one in the bunch; while Willis may be the only “big” name in the film, everyone fills their roles remarkably, even the less focused characters like the one played by Donnie Wahlberg.
There isn’t a weak element to be found in this film and it truly is one of the best films of the past decade. It’s hard to believe it’s just a year away from celebrating its tenth anniversary, but The Sixth Sense has stood up well against the years. Not only is it believable (as believable as a thriller like this can be) in how it’s presented, but the archetypes and tones of the film are still relevant, as sad as that may be in some cases. As much as it will scare the pants off of you at times, The Sixth Sense is much more than cheap parlor tricks. If for whatever reason you’ve been avoiding this film, and even if you’ve had the ending spoiled for you, go ahead and check this one out. Highly Recommended.
After rather disappointing Blu-ray releases for Unbreakable and Signs, I expected The Sixth Sense to fair the same way. Surprisingly (and happily) this is not the case; Disney seems to have learned from their over processing and detail smearing days and instead focused on putting more effort into the transfer for this film. The rest of the presentation remains largely the same, however; a standard Blu-ray case with a double sided jacket and insert for $10 back if you upgrade from the previous DVD edition (any version) of the film. Although Disney’s titles tend to be priced a bit higher, you don’t feel so bad about double dipping since the $10 knocks a large chunk off of the price (especially with this title currently going for under $24 on Amazon as of this writing). Menus follow the standard Disney formula, although you’re given the option to forego the menu and skip straight into the movie, something I haven’t seen previously on a Disney title.
The AVC encoded 1.85:1 1080p transfer delivered for this film is not without its flaws, but it is certainly leagues above the previous Blu-ray Shyamalan efforts and easily trumps the original DVD release. The film itself remains moody for the most part and rarely do you ever actually see any bright sequences so there isn’t a lot of color to blow you away, but there is plenty of detail packed into the dark sequences. Clothing texture, book binding and facial details all look fantastic. There are a few instances of waxy appearances, but it’s nothing nearly as distracting as the Unbreakable or The Signs releases.
As impressive as the video transfer is, the audio is a bit lackluster. An English 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit) is included but just doesn’t really provide much oomph over the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track (also included). Surrounds are a tad bit more defined, but there’s really nothing special about the mix itself and I left the film rather underwhelmed. There also seemed to be a bit of hissing throughout the entire film; it wasn’t really distracting, but it was definitely there. Actually checked to see if my speakers were getting interference, but the other films I spot tested didn’t hiss so it must be this transfer. French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
The extras from this set are all copied over from the Vista Series release, which means there are some missing extras from the single disc DVD release. How you manage to completely skip over extras I don’t know, but what is here is of a satisfactory state. First is "Reflections from the Set" (39:13) and "Between Two Worlds" (37:24), two in-depth looks at the making of the film, one of which is more film-based and the other talking more about the fundamentals of how the films story came to be. "Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process" (14:51) focuses on the storyboarding, "Music and Sound Design" (6:38) talks about the audio in the film and "Reaching the Audience" (3:33) talks about the reception of the film; sadly the “Reaching” is so short, I like retrospective type extras the most, but this one seems like it’s over before it really begins. "Rules and Clues" (6:01) talks about the supernatural elements of the film, while the "Deleted Scenes" (14:58) wrap up the major extras, with the Theatrical Trailer finishing up. All extras are presented in 480i standard definition.
Overall this is a solid release and worth upgrading if you enjoyed the movie. Video quality is good, audio isn’t much of an improvement and the extras are the same, but if you’re looking to witness The Sixth Sense in high-def, this is the way to go. Recommended.
Can’t believe I went the entire review without mentioning that Bruce Willis was dead the entire movie. Wait…dammit.
The Sixth Sense is now available on Blu-ray.