Shyamalan 1: The Sixth Sense (1999)

or, what would it be like to be haunted by a vomiting 13-year-old Mischa Barton?

Don’t worry Haley… one day you’ll get to be in Kevin Smith movies!

Did Bruce Willis’ shoddy grasp of child protection issues begin before or after his death?  I mean, I can see that ghosts have no concept of personal space in the afterlife, but there’s really no excuse for the stalking, and spending unnecessary amounts of time in Haley Joel Osment’s bedroom.  Child protection guidelines are there to protect you, as much as the child, Bruce.

(though saying that, we act like poor child protection was something that happened back in the seventies, but I can remember sharing a room with a teacher on a school residential back in 2001.  There are probably pictures of me somewhere floating around some dark corner of the internet.)

If Haley Joel Osment (and Jesus, the issues some of these child actors from the nineties have had to deal with… Jake Lloyd’s got much bigger things to deal with than George Lucas ruining your childhood) learns to live with the ghosts that he sees, then he gets the joy of spending the rest of his life seeing dead people.  Who just seem to spend their lives moaning about their mental health.  It’s a bit like Instagram in that regard.

But the most significant ghost of all is a vomiting 13-year-old Mischa Barton.  Now, Barton is someone who knows what it is like to be haunted, given her palpable resentment whenever someone mentions Marissa Cooper.  But would it be so bad?  The vomiting is foul whatever way you look at it… but think of the things you could ask her:

  1. Is Hugh Grant a dick? He claims that every actress he’s worked opposite hates him – are you the exception?  Did he even bother to feed you lines on Notting Hill or was he too busy pushing his foot on the brake pedal (that reference requires knowledge of his arrest.  Remember, I am not responsible for your ignorance.)

That’s actually the only thing I can think of to ask a 13-year-old Mischa Barton, but there are things we could ask present-day Mischa Barton:

  1. Why is dentistry so unappealing?
  2. Did you speak to Dickie Attenborough about Gandi? (it’s a bit much isn’t it?)
  3. What happened on Dancing with the Stars? Because the British version of it is bullshit, but I still know enough that the people who did as badly as you did are people like Ann Widdecombe (google her…) and the bald creep off Masterchef.  Mischa… you’re better than them!  What happened?

On the other hand, Barton is totally the kind of person who edits her own Wikipedia page (does anyone need to see a correctly citated review of her 2012 performance in a stage version of Steel Magnolias?  Though the Wikipedia entry curiously does not mention that her co-star in this stage revival of nobody’s favourite Julia Roberts film, was Madge from Neighbours. Strange, that.)  She has the rare ability to make acting seem like it is hard, which is strange, given that it’s often little more than professional dress-up.  And it’s completely my prejudice, but Barton just looks like the kind of person who would ruin the ending of a film for you.  She’d tell you that Bruce Willis is dead from the moment he first creeped out a child.

It’s a good film… it’s deliberate, and the ghosts could do with being a bit more hostile – I don’t think it makes any sense (other than some innocuous platitudes about the afterlife) that the ghost can’t remember that they’re dead.  It should be traumatic and terrifying and the ghost should be freaking out about it all over the place.  And it’s hard to watch the film without thinking about the twist… it’s become somehow bigger than the film itself.  Still it’s aged better than some other films that relied on surprising the audience’s expectations (The Usual Suspects anyone?)


Shyamalan rankings:


  1. The Sixth Sense

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