The Sixth Sense Actually Makes Zero Sense

By Robert Scucci | Published

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that when I first watched The Sixth Sense, I was blown away by the surprise ending that points out how Bruce Willis’ Malcolm Crowe was a ghost the entire time. If you’re not a fan of spoilers, I’m going to have to instruct you to forget about the previous sentence, but also remind you that this movie has been a part of the cultural zeitgeist for nearly 25 years. Since the cat’s been out of the bag for a quarter of a century, I don’t feel guilty about talking about the film’s twist ending or how I think it makes absolutely no sense. 

The Sixth Sense Warrants Repeat Viewings

Before I start laying out my case, I’ll extend an olive branch because The Sixth Sense is one of those movies that warrants repeat viewings. Once the big reveal is made, it’s only natural to feel the urge to start the film over and see what kind of clues lead up to Crowe’s disturbing revelation. Not unlike a Taylor Swift song, you want to look for the Easter eggs in The Sixth Sense because that’s half of the fun. 

Logical Inconsistencies

Since I’m allergic to fun and like pointing out what I think are logical inconsistencies in movies, I have a few bones to pick with M. Night Shyamalan’s best film. 

The biggest issue I have with The Sixth Sense is the circumstances surrounding Malcolm Crowe’s doctor-patient relationship with Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Cole is a 9-year-old boy who can’t make an appointment on his own without a parent or guardian present. What’s more, if Cole were able to make an appointment without a parent present, which I just established would be unethical, the question is how. 

Let me explain. 

How Is The Business Still Open?

If Malcolm died at the beginning of The Sixth Sense and then we flash forward several months later, who’s keeping the lights on and door open at his practice? Not only would the lease run out, but the phone line would be disconnected as well. If Cole is the only person who can see Malcolm, that means his mother, and everybody else for that matter, cannot. 

Doesn’t Respect The Viewer

However, there is one line in The Sixth Sense that’s supposed to make you suspend disbelief, and that’s when Cole mentions to Malcolm that the dead “only see what they want to see.” This single line of dialogue is supposed to make it so Malcolm doesn’t see the gunshot wound in his abdomen since we’re seeing the story unfold mostly from his perspective. But we do see Malcolm from a third-person omniscient perspective, as well as from Cole’s perspective throughout the film, and there’s no wound.

Bruce Willis Looks Like A Movie Star

Since Malcolm is always wearing a shirt and tie or a jacket in The Sixth Sense, I guess you can assume that the wound simply isn’t visible. But when you look at the other spirits wandering around from Cole’s perspective, they look worse for wear, whether it’s from a wound or simply because they look exhausted and frustrated with their transitional state of being. If the dead only see what they want to see, then it doesn’t make sense that the ghosts who are reaching out to Cole are fully aware of and frustrated by the fact that they have failed to cross over into the next plane of existence and need Cole’s help. 

The Italian Restaurant

Even the ghost of Kyra, the little girl at the funeral reception, kind of looks like she’d been poisoned. Following that logic, wouldn’t Malcolm’s skin look a little flushed from bleeding out after getting shot to death at the beginning of the movie?

I also find it hard to believe that Malcolm shared a house (or thought he did) with his widowed wife, Anna (Olivia Williams), for months and just assumed that she was ignoring him the entire time. When Malcolm arrives at the Italian restaurant in The Sixth Sense, he jokingly says, “I thought you meant the other Italian restaurant I asked you to marry me in,” which, again, makes no sense because that implies they had a conversation about where they’d be eating. 

A Wildly Emotional Journey Regardless

Maybe I’m just looking a little too hard into The Sixth Sense to poke holes in its logic, but I wish I never re-watched this film. If I gave it the one-and-done treatment, I’d still be blown away. I still love this movie because it’s still a wildly emotional journey about loss, grief, and the afterlife, but every additional time I watch it and think about its twist ending, I can’t help but ask myself questions that I don’t think M. Night Shyamalan wants me to ask.