I think it depends. If the director tricks by omission rather than careful placement of clues and suggestions, I might initially like a film, but it won’t stand the test of subsequent viewings.

Lavik’s article discusses The 6th Sense and other films famous for their plot twists and the way in which these twists alter directorial decisions in filmmaking and audience interaction over multiple viewings.

I’m not really looking forward to watching The 6th Sense tomorrow. It’s a really fantastic film the first and second time, but even though it’s probably Shyamalan’s best film (although I did really like the atmosphere in Lady in the Water), it’s still suffers the stigma of what is unfairly considered Shymalan’s only trick.

Shyamalan pitches a plan in an episode of South Park

Sure, I’ll make fun of him for being a 1-trick pony: everyone’s doing it, from South Park to Robot Chicken. And they’re sorta right: barring The 6th Sense, his twists really feel like they’re out of left field, even though the audience is already expecting them of him.

Lavik addresses why I’m not particularly amped to watch the film again. Subsequent viewings of the film affect the audience’s interaction with the film, changing it from emotional to technical. From personal experience, second and third viewings of this film segue focus on “How was I tricked?” rather than any sort of sympathetic or empathetic response…it really removes the emotional impact of every scene between Malcom and his wife, as all the scenes in which they “interact” are directorial artifice. I think the film really suffers upon multiple viewings in a way that Fight Club or other “twist” films do not. Perhaps Fight Club gives more clues throughout so that the end doesn’t come as such a shock, but I think it’s more related to what the twist entails. The twists in Fight Club or “Tabula Rasa” force the audience to reevaluate every interaction they just saw, but The 6th Sense asks audiences to believe none of the interactions happened—they were simply tricked, by editing, framing, and careful manipulation of syuzhet.

The audience falls into creating an incorrect fabula as a result, and even though we’re supposed to be getting a subjective representation of Malcom’s experience (and denial) and the supernatural nature of the film should key us into thinking trickery is an option, the “what-if’s” scream too loud for me to ignore.

“it’s only when we imagine all those inevitable situations that we aren’t allowed to witness that the fabula loses credibility.”

We’re not exactly given that many clues (there are some obvious and not-so-obvious ones), and the direction is extremely deceptive. I think The 6th Sense is an unbelievable movie the first time through, but when you break it down, I think the film really suffers from a detached and critical viewing of technique.


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