“I See Dead People”: The Sixth Sense
No collection of classic ghost movies would be complete without The Sixth Sense, the 1999 supernatural thriller that catapulted M. Night Shyamaian into prominence as a director. The movie stars Bruce Willis as child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe and Haley Joel Osment as Cole Sear, a boy with the ability to see the spirits of the dead. Crowe sets out to try to help Cole with his unusual problems, but by the end of the movie it becomes apparent that the boy has been helping his doctor at least as much as his doctor has been helping him. The boy also provides assistance to numerous other disembodied beings along the way.
Although the movie itself is not particularly chilling, the line, “I see dead people,” which Cole whispers to Crowe, became an instant classic in its own right and has remained in popular use ever since—often being employed in a humorous or ironic context, such as when people are driving past a cemetery.
Most of the ghostly motivation in The Sixth Sense stems from the widespread notion that a ghost remains earthbound in order to take care of “unfinished business,” emotional or otherwise, that remains outstanding from its time among the living. Only after settling its affairs can the ghost move on to the next plane of existence.