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M Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense sets itself up as a thriller, poised on the brink of delivering monstrous scares, but gradually evolves into more of a psychological drama with supernatural undertones. Many critics faulted the film for being mawkish and New Agey, but no matter how you slice it, this is one mightily effective piece of filmmaking. The bare bones of the story are basic enough, but the moody atmosphere created by Shyamalan and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto made this one of the creepiest pictures of 1999, one that forsakes excessive gore for a sinisterly simple feeling of chilly otherworldliness.
Bruce Willis is in his strong, silent type mode here, and gives the film wholly over to Haley Joel Osment, whose crumpled face and big eyes convey a child too wise for his years; his scenes with his mother (Toni Collette) are small, heartbreaking marvels. And even if you figure out the film's surprise ending, it packs an amazing emotional wallop when it comes; it will have you racing to watch the movie again with a new perspective. You may be able to shake off the sentimentality of The Sixth Sense, but its craftsmanship and atmosphere will stay with you for days.