24. The Sixth Sense
Original Release — August 6, 1999
Though often a victim of parody from its most famous line, M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller delivers fright — and simultaneously a poignant drama. Despite the director’s up and down success in Hollywood — both critical and commercial — his debut feature is still considered to be his best film, and rightfully so. Tormented by his gift of seeing the ghosts of the dead, young Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is brought into the care of Malcolm (Bruce Willis), a child psychiatrist with demons of his own.
As they discover the reasoning behind Cole’s grim curse, it’s true edge-of-your-seat frights gives way to a far more existential dread — the pain of unfinished business. Sometimes, it is not a riveting car chase or Old West standoff that creates tension — very often, it can be seeing a character you have come to care for wallow in the emptiness of their lives. Tension is created around the simple of principle of “what’s coming next?” When you have disparate characters attempting to find meaning, that basic question is never more prevalent.
Image Source: IMDb