Welcome to The Great Debate, a feature that asks you to argue for or against one of two opposing film-related elements. You will make your case for why you think one element is better than the other. Please note that this week’s debate contains spoilers, so if you have not seen either film you may want to do so first. Let the debate begin!
Best twist ending
I know some who weren’t fooled at all by the twist at the end of M. Night Shyalaman’s The Sixth Sense, but I was. Though Haley Joel Osment’s character revealed that he could “see dead people,” it wasn’t obvious to me that he was seeing a dead man in Bruce Willis’ character during every one of their onscreen interactions. I thought Willis was alive and well, and though Shyamalan sprinkles clues aplenty throughout the film (namely the marital dinner scene), I was totally fooled the first time I saw the film.
The Others – Nicole Kidman and her children have been dead all along
Following The Sixth Sense, Nicole Kidman starred in a film about a woman (Grace) and her two children who live in a mansion and suspect that it may be haunted by ghosts. The house is indeed haunted, but by them! Stricken with grief for her missing husband and driven insane from living in isolation, Grace smothered her children with a pillow, then upon realizing what she’d done, killed herself. When another ghost inhabiting the house informs Grace of what is really going on, Grace is stunned. I was less surprised by the film’s big reveal because I suspected that they were all dead about half way through.
My argument is for The Sixth Sense largely because I feel that M. Night Shyalaman effectively preserves his twist by establishing, executing and sustaining metaphysical rules better than that of Alejandro Amenabar in The Others. Amenabar so effectively establishes simple enigmatic suspense at the beginning of the film without employing big effects, but the story becomes muddled with the introduction of too many extra characters in the second half and the film becomes a little confusing, thus resulting in a lack of coherence which I believe ultimately compromises the mystery. Plus, I became rather impatient by the film’s end which began to feel rather drawn out. In contrast, Shyalaman’s storytelling somehow carried me past the obvious red herrings that in hindsight were in plain view enough to blindside me at the end.