Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Release Date: 6 August 1999
Length: 107 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“When young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) inexplicably starts seeing dead people, he lands in the care of child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who is determined to uncover the truth behind Cole’s remarkable paranormal abilities. M. Night Shyamalan writes and directs this plot twist-filled chiller, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Olivia Williams and Toni Collette co-star.” — Netflix.com
If you are looking for a great supernatural thriller and you have not yet seen this movie, you are really in for a treat! This movie is good no matter how many times you have seen it and I expect that it will stand the test of time for some years to come. It is so well made and acted, yet suspenseful and surprising at the same time. The first time I saw this movie, the ending completely caught me off guard, and that really doesn’t happen that often. I immediately scanned back through my memory banks and realized, yep, all of the clues were there right in front of me and I still missed it! Such a great story – you really don’t come across movies in the thriller genre like this one very often.
The cinematography is very well done and there are a few startling moments when the ghosts pop up from angles that you do not expect. The characters are multi-faceted and flawed and so intriguing, you really want to learn more about them and you are hoping that there is good in store for them. Dr. Crowe (Bruce Willis) is an overworked child psychologist who has dedicated his life towards helping troubled children; Anna, Dr. Crowe’s wife (Olivia Williams), who fears that she will always come second best to her husband’s work; Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy who claims that he sees ghosts, he is afraid of them and also fears of being labeled a freak if others know that he sees dead people; Toni Collette plays Cole’s mother and she is a struggling single parent who doesn’t know how to help her young son. All of the leads did a wonderful job, especially Haley Joel Osment, who was really good, especially for being so young. Bruce Willis was a standout in an atypical role for him and I felt like he would be a great psychologist and really understood children. There is also a host of supporting characters, mostly ghosts, who all need some help and attention to overcome their problems. The makeup is really well done, on the ghosts especially, as you can easily see how they all died and get a glimpse into their back story. It is clear that they need help, but most of them look pretty horrific as they died from gunshot wounds, fires, hanging and other fairly gruesome methods.
The musical soundtrack is also really nice and adds to the suspense. It is carefully interwoven into the story and has you on the edge of your seat before you even realize that something is happening. The best part about the music is that it is not overbearing and intrusive, but it adds to and elevates the story to another level. This movie contains a lot of suspense, but is not too scary and is definitely a thinking kind of thriller. I read a lot of fantasy books and always thought that it would be pretty cool to talk to dead people, but, after watching this movie, I am not so sure that I still think it would be such a neat superpower to have…
This movie contains a lot of dead people/ghosts and it is pretty obvious the way that they died. There are fairly graphic wounds shown including shotgun holes, burns, vehicular manslaughter and more. The movie is a thriller so there are a lot of scary and intense moments in the film that are pretty unexpected. There is also some violence shown and child bullying. This is not a gory thriller, but it is intense. Recommended for ages 13 and up.