2. “I See Dead People”
After a traumatic encounter with a ghost at a birthday party, Cole faints and ends up in hospital. Malcolm visits him in his room and tries to tell him a bedtime story. Cole cuts him off and asks him why he is sad, saying that he sees it in his eyes. Dr Crowe explains his background with Vincent, and if he can help Cole, it would be like helping that other child. After some hesitation, Cole says he finally wants to share his secret, whispering ominously, “I see dead people.” He explains that he sees them everywhere, walking around, but they don’t see each other; they only see what they want to see and they don’t know that they are dead.
As Christi Carras writes for The Los Angeles Times, this iconic line ‘trigger[s] instant playback in our collective movie memory’ back to the first time anyone saw this film. The camera slowly tracks in and music builds before Cole shares his secret, and with his blanket pulled up right under his chin like he is telling a ghost story, Osment delivers the line perfectly. This moment is also another great example of Cole and Malcolm’s pseudo-father-son bonding and an important turning point for both characters building a trusting relationship.
Recommended for you: Every Oscar-Nominated Best Picture Horror Film Ranked
1. The Plot Twist
After saying goodbye to Cole at the end of the film, Malcolm goes home to find his wife, Anna (Olivia Williams), asleep. When she shifts, she drops his wedding ring on the floor and, confused, he slowly realises that he is not wearing it. He wanders around the house and finally recognises signs that Anna lives alone. As he puts the pieces together, the film flashes back to Cole describing how ghosts don’t know that they are dead, as well as to the night he was shot. New information reveals that he in fact died and Malcolm’s ghost finds a blood-stained gunshot wound on his back. He finally goes back to find Anna still sleeping and says goodbye one last time.
Frequently considered one of the best plot twists in movie history, there are subtle hints throughout the film that Malcolm is indeed a ghost, but Shyamalan is careful never to disclose too much. The flashbacks in this climactic scene piece together these clues as both Malcolm and the audience simultaneously discover the truth. One question is left unanswered: does Cole at any point know that Malcolm is a ghost? Devoted cinephiles have tried to filter through the film to solve this mystery, but the answer remains a mystery. Regardless, Malcolm has not only fulfilled his mission of helping Cole, but also of letting his wife heal, and now he too can peacefully move on.
Recommended for you: 10 Best Horror Movies of the 90s
The Sixth Sense remains one of the most influential horror movies of our current era, and an all-time great screen ghost story. Which moments do you like the most? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and X (Twitter) for more insightful movie lists.