Thursday, October 20, 2016

de profundis clamo ad te domine

The Sixth Sense
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg
Released: August 6, 1999
Viewed in theaters: March 4, 2000

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (lost to American Beauty)
Best Director - M. Night Shyamalan (lost to Sam Mendes for American Beauty)
Best Supporting Actor - Haley Joel Osment (lost to Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules)
Best Supporting Actress - Toni Collette (lost to Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted)
Best Original Screenplay - M. Night Shyamalan (lost to Alan Ball for American Beauty)
Best Editing (lost to The Matrix)

"You know the accident up there?"
"Someone got hurt."
"They did?"
"A lady. She died."
"Oh my God. What, you can see her?"
"Where is she?"
"Standing next to my window."

Brrrrrr, it got a little chilly in here! I get goosebumps every time I watch that scene. I STILL remember seeing the trailer for this movie and that was the first thing they showed and I was so creeped out by it! Of course, in the trailer they used a different take and he tells his mom that the lady "broke her neck". 

Do I even need to put a spoiler warning for this movie? Everybody and their grandmother has seen this movie, right? Actually, being that this movie is 17 years old, there is a whole new generation that has yet to see this movie, and hopefully they will able to enjoy it spoiler-free. I look forward to my two nieces seeing it one day. As they are only four and a year old, they are much too young to see it now! With that said, yes, obviously there are spoilers, so if you are perhaps discovering this movie for the first time, please see it before reading the rest of this review. 

I have a lot of history with this movie. As you can see, I didn't actually see it until seven months after its theatrical release. I saw it when it came out during its Oscar re-release. I didn't see it in its initial run because I hate scary movies, but then my brother convinced me to see it, that it wasn't scary at all. He was right; it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, though plenty of scenes made me jump the first time I saw it. It's definitely more on the psychological thriller side than horror. After I saw the movie with a friend (we went to a 9 PM showing and I will admit, I did have a little trouble falling asleep that night, shut up!), I called my brother the next day because I absolutely loved it and there was SO MUCH to discuss! I even had a four hour conversation about it with my mom (who had also recently seen it) during a road trip. I even remember eating lunch at a pizza place and there was this couple near me and I could hear them talking about Mischa Barton's character from the movie and I soooo wanted to jump in and offer my opinion (can't remember exactly what they were discussing), but I didn't because I'm not the type of person to jump in strangers' conversations! 

In fact, there was so much to discuss about this movie, that I even made a website dedicated to this movie! Yes, it was my very first (and only) website. It was amazing; I wish I still had it, but I think it's in cyber heaven now. I made it with Angelfire....haha, remember Angelfire? High five if you do! I think it was called "Sara's Sixth Sense Site." That would make sense because I do like alliteration. I even remember the home page was the photo on the right of Haley Joel Osment and the text above it read in large red letters, "Do you dare enter the world of The Sixth Sense? Come at your own risk. Remember, not every gift is a blessing. Yo no quiero morir."  You clicked on the photo to enter the site. I had red text (because red was an important color in that movie) with a black background. Oh, man, I wished I still had access to this! I had so many features to my site, including FAQs. One of the questions was, "Did Cole know Malcolm was a ghost?" and 2000 me can't remember what I put, but present day me would say, Well, duh, of course he knew! He knew the difference between the living and the dead, RIGHT?!?!? And I had a question about whether the woman who poisoned Kyra (the Mischa Barton ghost) was her mom or stepmom, but I can't remember what I thought back then. They never actually say if she's the mom or stepmom. It has to be a stepmom because no mother could poison their own child, right? It would just be too horrible!  I think I even had the question, "What are triangle pancakes?" because I had never heard of those is my life. I assume they're pancakes in the shapes of triangles? I know, duh, Sara, but I have never heard of such a thing! Must be a Philly thing. Other features on my site included photos, a guest book, songs that reminded me of the movie, and a list of things that might indicate if you're obsessed with The Sixth Sense. Some of these included items like, "When someone tells you a  corny joke and you reply, 'I didn't know you were funny'" and "You wear glasses without the lenses". My favorite thing about my site was that I ranked all of the ghosts on a scale from 1-10 in terms of their scariness and I gave a little backstory about each one. If I remember right, I think I ranked the woman in the kitchen pretty high. You know, the one who screams at Cole (Osment), "You can't hurt me anymore!" and shows him her wrists in which she obviously committed suicide to get away from her abusive husband. OMG, she was so scary! Terrifying! She still scares me to this day! The other ghosts did scare me the first time I saw this movie, but she's the only one who really still scares the sh*t out of me!

After I saw The Sixth Sense and the Oscars aired, I was really impressed that an eleven-year-old was nominated for an Oscar (yes, I realize Anna Paquin was the same age when she WON her Oscar in '94, but I didn't start watching the Oscars until a couple years after). I joined an HJO message board where I met some great people. I'm even Facebook friends with a few I've met there. I created my site in the summer of 2000 (June 20, 2000, to be exact, but who's keeping track?) and posted a link. After sifting through many messages, I found a couple that complimented me about my site. I don't mean to toot my own horn, (okay, maybe a little!), but let's take a look shall we? Here's one message:

I just wanted to say that your page is excellent!! One whole month is a lot of time to put into something, and let me tell you, that was time well spent! I haven't seen all of your site, but I checked out most of it, and it really is great (not to mention that you thanked me and Mandi for providing you with the "you know your obsessed when...stuff! hehe that made it even better that my name was on it!!j/k) But really, thanks for the site, it's on my favorites, cause I know I will be checking back there a lot.

LOL, apparently I made a big deal that it took me an ENTIRE MONTH to create this site. OMG, shut up, 2000 me!

Here is another very sweet message somebody wrote to me:
I just had to tell you how proud I am of you!! Your page is very well done and I love the pictures. All of your hard work has paid off! You're a very talented and smart girl whom I admire greatly. Keep up the good work and be proud of yourself! Everyone go check out Sara's Web page, it's very cool!

Here's another one:
Sara's site is super, I've never seen a sixth sense site that even slightly resembles Sara's. Sara included lots and lots of new and very informative information and facts in her site. There are many sites about T6S, but Sara's is the greatest (God knows that I'm not saying this only to please Sara who's a regular in this board ). Unlike other sites, Words and text information spoke louder than pictures. This is why I believe that Sara's site is the best so far. It's not only pics and basic shallow few facts..but really Sara got in to the real deep concept of the movie, I'm sure this reflects Sara's own personality. She managed to -perfectly- analyze the movie and to answer every debatable scenes. It was very hard for me to leave her site after I firstly visited it. She also included very scientific concepts that the movie tackled. I have to admit, I enjoyed everything Sara did, and I do admire her talents.

Obviously, I should have won an award for my Sixth Sense site. It was an amazing site; it truly was. I really miss my awesome Sixth Sense site and wish I still had it. It would be interesting to see what I had written about it sixteen years ago.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Shut up already about my Sixth Sense site from sixteen years ago that doesn't even exist anymore and get on with the review!

Don't you love the scene where child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is telling Cole this really lame story about a family driving and Cole tells him that he needs to add "twists and stuff" to make his story more interesting. It was right there in front of our faces the entire time! And when Cole tells Malcolm, "I see dead people" and they zoom in on Willis's face. I feel like this movie started the whole twists trend, although obviously there have been twists in movies long before this one (The Usual Suspects comes to mind). I do think it was clever the reason his wife, Anna (Olivia Williams), never talked to him was because he thought she was mad at him and was giving him the cold shoulder. When he goes to the restaurant, he thinks she's mad at him because she was late and I like the touch of him not moving the chair when he sits down and when the check comes, she grabs it just a second before he's about to get it. Looking at that scene now, how depressing is it that she went to the restaurant her dead husband proposed to her on their anniversary? I think I would rather just stay home and drink a bottle of wine and cry. Can you imagine the conversation she had with the waiter?
Waiter: "Are you here to celebrate a special occasion?"
Anna: "Yes, it's my husband's and my [whatever number of years] anniversary."
Waiter: "Marvelous! Where is the lucky man?"
Anna: "Oh, he's dead. He was shot by a former patient in our bedroom and died in my arms, but I couldn't not come here on our anniversary. This is where he proposed to me."
Waiter: "Uh....our best bottle of champagne is on the house tonight."
I just wrote Sixth Sense fanfic, y'all! But seriously, that scene seems a little contrived now because nobody would ever do that!

I like that he can never open the door to the basement to get in his office and it always looks like he's reaching into his pocket to get a key, but towards the end it is revealed that there's a desk with a huge stack of book blocking the way. Remember, as Cole told him, "They only see what they want to see!"

One thing that really doesn't make any sense, now that I think about it (this movie always seems to produce more questions than answers!) is how Dr. Crowe and Cole became acquainted. When you watch it, not knowing the twist, you don't question it. It's a year after the incident with his former child patient, Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg) and we see Malcolm outside of Cole's home with notes about him. He follows him to the church and says they were suppose to have a session that day, but he missed his appointment. (Um, how does an effing child psychologist miss his appointments? Good Lord, even the awful hack "child psychologist" from The Good Son never missed her appointments!) But if you're watching this, KNOWING the twist, it doesn't make any sense how a dead man could set up an appointment. Although there is a note saying that Cole was referred to him in 1998, when he was still alive, so maybe he had all the information about this kid, but hadn't taken him on as a patient yet? IDK! Maybe I just answered my own question.

Just like how they try to fool you with Malcolm and Anna, I think it's very clever how they try to fool you with Malcolm and Cole's mom, Lynn (Toni Collette). I was fooled, but now watching it knowing the twist, it's like, of course! The scene when Cole comes home from school and Lynn and Malcolm are sitting opposite each other in the living room should be one of the first giveaways that Cole knows he's a ghost. I feel like any other kid would have mentioned Dr. Crowe being there, but Cole doesn't say anything; granted, he is an odd child at times. When you watch this for the first time and Lynn tell him she's going to make him those famous triangle pancakes and that he "has an hour", you think, oh, she's referring to his session, but apparently it takes an hour to make triangle pancakes! You also notice Cole doesn't talk to Dr. Crowe during his mind-reading game as not to make his mom suspicious, but then he does talk later about the rainbow drawing, so never mind! Also, I don't know if you caught this, because it's easy to dismiss and I didn't catch it until my third viewing, but after Cole tells Malcolm, "They don't have meetings about rainbows", you see him turn his head and looks up, then down. He was so looking at a dead person, I know he was! I think it was his grandmother since he didn't seem to be too scared and the grandmother and the lady who died in the fire at his school (the one who helped him before the play) seemed to be the nicer ghosts who he talked to. The lady who died in the fire was the reason he knew about his teacher being called "Stuttering Stanley".

The other scene with Lynn and Dr. Crowe in the same room is after the birthday party when Cole has gone through that traumatic experience and they're trying to figure out what happened to him. Dr. Shyamalan tells them (but really only her) that the cuts and bruises on Cole is concerning him and wants her to talk to a social worker.

It's been a few years since I last saw this movie and I forgot that the first time you see a ghost, it's nearly an hour into the movie. (Okay, if you want to be technical, the first time you see a ghost, it's ten minute into the movie, but we're not suppose to know about that! Shhhh!) Now you do hear the ghost that was on the other side of that door at the birthday party Cole attends. (By the way, do yourself a favor and go to Spotify and play "Head" by Tin's the song from that scene). The first ghost you see is the Suicide Ghost, the one that scared me the most. Of course, earlier in the movie we have an interaction with her although we never saw her. This scene startled me quite a bit the first time I saw this movie and even when you know it's coming, it's still quite startling. It also seems like it's just one long camera take from the moment Lynn takes Cole's tie into the laundry room to get a spot out and retrieve a new one for him, then turns right around to walk back into the kitchen and many of the cabinets and drawers are open. Supposedly there is a very quick cut when she enters the other room, but it's so flawless you can't even tell. I was wondering how they did that!

Cole is afraid of the ghosts (as anybody would be!), so Malcolm suggests he help them. This is a turning point in the movie. The main ghosts he helps is that of a young girl named Kyra (a pre-The OC Mischa Barton) aka Puke Girl. That scene where she's revealed with vomit coming out of her mouth in his tent is absolutely terrifying! I find Kyra to be the most fascinating of all the ghosts, as she has the biggest arc out of any of them (and I'm sure 2000 me would agree), but there are so many questions. First of all, why does she even need Cole's help to play the video indicating her (step)mom poisoned her? She (and all the other ghosts) seem very capable of handling physical objects. She pushes the box containing the video in it out from under her bed when Cole enters her creepy bedroom filled with marionettes and porcelain dolls. Really, could they have made her room even more creepier? Also, why is she hiding under the bed? Doesn't she know she's a ghost? Oh, right, Cole tells Malcolm, "They don't know they're dead"....BUT if Kyra doesn't know she's dead, then why is she giving Cole the tape implicating her (step)mom poisoned her? Unless she thinks she's still alive and wants to save her sister, who they say is starting to become sick now? But couldn't she do that if she was still alive? ALSO...she KNEW she was being poisoned when she was alive, right? Because that's why she kept the camera rolling when Mommy Dearest came in with the poisoned soup during her marionette plays. But if she knew she was being poisoned, why the eff was she eating the soup? As I mentioned earlier, I assumed the woman was Kyra's stepmom, but honestly, they never say one way or another if she's a stepmom or the biological mother. Remember when I overheard a couple at a pizza place talking about this scene? I'm pretty sure they were discussing this same exact thing! They were also probably wondering why a parent could do such a thing to a child. I wondered the same and did some research. I think it was my mom who told me about Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Now if you've ever seen the TV show House, they did an episode about this. I also talked about it at length in my Sixth Sense site. Here is what Wikipedia says about it (the bold is emphasized by me): "In Munchausen syndrome by proxy, an adult caregiver makes a child or elderly person appear mentally or physically ill or impaired by either fabricating symptoms or actually causing harm to the child or elderly person to gain the attention of medical providers and others. To perpetuate the medical relationship, the caregiver systematically misrepresents symptoms, fabricates signs, manipulates laboratory tests, or even purposely harms the child (e.g. by poisoning, suffocation, infection, physical injury)." That's some scary stuff. Nice touch having the (step)mom wear red to the funeral while everyone was wearing black.

My favorite scene in the movie, as I'm sure it is for many other people, is the scene I quoted from above, when Cole and his mother are in the car and Cole reveals his secret to her. It is very emotional when he tells her that his grandma, her mother, talks to him sometimes and she's the one who keeps taking the bumblebee pendant Lynn gets mad at him for taking. Even after watching this movie numerous times, I still teared up when Cole tells his mother that his grandma told him that Lynn came to her grave site and asked her a question and the answer was "Everyday" and Cole wanted to know what his mother asked and Lynn replies, "Do I make her proud?" Toni Collette is so good in this movie and she knocked it out of the park with that scene (as well as Osment, of course). I was shocked (-shocked!-) when I learned she was Australian. 

I think Shyamalan found lighting in a bottle with this movie; I don't think he was ever going to top it. I did see Unbreakable and Signs and I did like those movies, though I haven't seen Unbreakable since its theatrical release and I honestly don't remember anything about it, so I would like to revisit it. I've seen Signs twice and I did enjoy it, despite one very stupid thing (which I don't want to say because I'm not reviewing that movie right now so I don't want to spoil anything, but those of you have seen it, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about!). I also saw The Village, but I thought the twist was a let down. The movie as a whole was okay. I haven't seen anything since that one and I'm kind of glad because they all look pretty terrible. I have seen video reviews of some of those movies and it looks like I wasn't missing anything! However, The Sixth Sense is one of my all time favorite movies. I wouldn't make a site dedicated to it if it wasn't!

I have breaking news....

OMG, YOU GUYS!!!!! OH MY GOD.....I FOUND MY SIXTH SENSE SITE!!!!!! You don't know how HAPPY this makes me! I was able to find a link to the page that includes all the other links to all my features. Now the site is still down and it's all just a bunch of HTML gibberish and there's no black background with photos and red text, but the text is still there. You KNOW I have to share it with you! This was my introduction page. I've copied and pasted so I can get rid of the gibberish and it will be easier to read:

When The Sixth Sense first came out in August 1999, I wasn’t crazy to see it for two reasons: 
1) Bruce Willis was in it (C’mon, you have to admit he’s not the world’s greatest actor!)
2) When I saw the movie trailer, it just scared the living crap out of me. (I’m afraid of dead people.) 
I'm assuming most of you saw the movie when it came out in August. Well, I didn't. I saw it in March when it was re-released in theaters. I saw the trailer for The Sixth Sense when my two friends and I went to see South Park in the summer of '99. When I saw the scene where Cole says "Standing next to my window," I got shivers down my spine. When I heard him say "I see dead people," I thought, there is no way in hell I am going to see that movie. You don't understand my fear of dead people. I am utterly afraid of dead people. I've had these awful dreams and I am just mortally afraid of them. When I got to funerals (I've only been to three in my life - so far), I cannot look in the coffin because it freaks me out so much. You don't understand what a baby I am about this, but it scared the living you know what out of me! Oh, yeah, and I didn't want to see it because I don't like scary movies. (I guess it's classified more as a "psychological thriller", though.)
My friend who knows I hate scary movies saw it and she said, "Sara, don't see that movie!" But when I asked other people like my roommate and my brother who saw it, they said it wasn't that scary. And over Christmas Break my brother convinced my mom and I that we had to see it. I knew there was a "twist" at the ending and I begged him to tell me, but he wouldn't. And I'm glad he didn't! He convinced me that it wasn't scary at all. And when I saw that this movie had been nominated for Best Picture and young Haley Joel Osment had gotten a nomination got best Supporting Actor, I was becoming more curious. I mean, it's not every day when an eleven year old gets nominated for an Oscar! It soon began to grow more and more popular and when it was nominated for six Oscars, I decided to finally go see it and see what the fuss was all about. My friend Amanda and I went to see it at a Lawrence theater on March 4, 2000 at 9:20 p.m. (Yes, I still have the movie stub!) I was surprised that the theater was near full. I didn't think there would be that many people since it was re-released. But after seeing the movie, I understood why the theater was full. The minute we sat down, the lights go off and the trailer for Erin Brockovich comes on. (Talk about perfect timing!) 
You know what's really pathetic? I was scared at the first scene. I thought a dead person was going to jump out at us! But then I relaxed and then got a little tense when Vincent appeared. But then after that, I relaxed and enjoyed the movie. It wasn't until the party scene where I began to feel my heart beating out of my chest for the rest of the movie. From the moment Cole is locked in that closet till the very end, I was clenching my stomach so tight and had my hands ready to reflex quickly to my eyes if I needed to! But I'm proud to say that I never had to leave the theater and I never completely covered my eyes. (Although I did have to look away for a second when I saw that boy's half blown off head - ugh.) 

Well, it turned out that I absolutely fell in love with it. I did jump a few times, and it did scare me, but at least I didn’t have nightmares. (Although I did have trouble falling asleep that night and I kept waking up, thinking about the movie. Plus it didn’t help that my white robe hanging on my closet door looked like a ghost!) I saw it three times in two months. It’s one of those movies that you think might not be good to view after you’ve seen it a first time because you know already know the ending, but I think it gets better and better the more times you watch it. There are so many things you can catch that you missed on your first viewing. 

Because I love The Sixth Sense so much, I decided to make a website dedicated to one of my favorite movies. I don't think I'll ever get sick of this movie. I could talk about it forever. The day after I saw it, I called my mom and brother to analyze the whole movie with them. Then a week later when I went home for spring break, my mom and I talked about the movie for four hours on the drive home. (Hey, it made the time go quick!)

In this site you’ll find my opinions about the movie,  questions and answers, quotes, biographies and lots of other fun stuff! If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ve put an asterisk (*) by any links I feel might give away the deep dark secret revealed in the movie. (But hopefully you have seen it by now!) I’m not very experienced when it comes to making webpages and this is my first one, so please keep that in mind! 
And please remember to sign the guestbook before you leave! Thank you!

The Sixth Sense is about a young boy, Cole Sear, (Haley Joel Osment) who can see dead people. He doesn’t want his mother, Lynn, (Toni Collette) to know because he’s scared that she’ll think he’s a freak. The only person he feels he can confide in and can help him with his problem is child psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). Dr. Crowe is determined to help him after he has failed one of his former patients, Vincent Gray (Donnie Walbergh). But he soon finds out that helping Cole takes too much time away from him being with his wife, Anna (Olivia Williams). But in the end he discovers a shocking secret about himself, making the audience ponder, Was it Malcolm who helped Cole or was it Cole who helped Malcolm? 

And here are my FAQs which I found amusing. I can tell you right now that nobody ever e-mailed me to ask these questions; I just acted like people did and I was answering them! Haha!

Q: What is the name of the song that is played during the birthday party scene? 
 A: That’s Head by Tin Star. Unfortunately, it’s not on the soundtrack. 
Q: Trevor Morgan (Tommy Tammisimo) looks familiar, but I can’t quite replace him. Where have I seen him before? 
A: If you’re a religious watcher of  ER, you’ve probably seen him as Dr. Anspaugh’s son who had cancer. Plus he's been in a lot of movies since  The Sixth Sense, including The Patriot, Jurassic Park 3, The Glass House, and The Rookie. 
Q: What was the name of the product Tommy Tammisimo was endorsing in his commercial? 
 A: That was Pedia Ease, a cough syrup medicine for children. It’s a made-up product, but there is Pedia Care. 

Q: What is the significance of the color red in the movie? 
A: If you have a good eye (or if you’ve seen the movie multiple times!), you’ll notice that many items in The Sixth Sense are red: the doorknob, the balloon, the sweater Cole wears at the birthday party, the dress that Anna wears at the restaurant, the doors to the church, the sweater Lynn wears in the car, Cole’s tent, the light bulb, the box containing the videotape, the Zoloft pills, the religious figure Cole steals from the church, the frame, the ink of the pen that Cole wrote his “upset words” with and the dress the mother of Kyra wears at the funeral to name a few. M. Night Shyamalan explains that “anything that’s tainted from the [ghost] world or has a connection to the other side” is colored red. 

Q: Why did Cole and Vincent have a patch of white in their hair? 
A: Cole and Vincent were the only ones who could see dead people, remember? Shyamalan wanted them to share a physical trait. According to some researchers it is natural for one to loose pigment in their hair when they experience trauma. 

Q: Did Cole know that Malcolm was a ghost? 
A: This is one of those questions I’ve seen debated numerous times, but in my opinion (and lots of other people’s I know), I do believe he did know. Remember when Cole was walking fast to the church when Malcolm was following him? Well, he looked scared and I think he sensed that something was wrong. Plus, I think if you did have this ability, you could probably tell a live person from a dead person. 
Ahhhh! So 2000 me agrees with present day me! Good to know! I do know myself!

Q: Why doesn’t Cole’s breath show when he’s around Malcolm? 
A: Because it only gets cold when ghosts get angry. Malcolm gets upset in the end when he finds out he’s dead and hence we see Anna’s breath. Also, remember the scene where Kyra was unbuttoning Cole’s tent? You could see his breath then, but when he went back to her and pulled the blanket off her, you no longer saw his breath. 
Q: How come Cole never told Malcolm he was dead? 
A: I’m not sure about this one, but I think he wanted Malcolm to figure that out on his own. 

 Plus it would spoil the movie!

Q: How much money has The Sixth Sense grossed so far? 
A: According to it’s made an estimated amount of $661,500,000 worldwide. 
Q: How does The Sixth Sense rate in terms of top grossing movies of all time? 
A: In the United States, it is the 14th biggest movie (so far). It used to be the tenth, but movies like Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and  Lord of the Rings pushed it out of the way. Worldwide, it is the 13th biggest movie of all time (so far). 
Obviously those movies I listed didn't exist back in 2000, but I did see I last updated my site in 2003.

Q: Why did Kyra’s mother poison her daughter? 
A: She had a condition called Munchausen by proxy. It's when a parent purposely harms their child to get attention. 
Q: Wait! You're confusing me! What is that disease? Mun-what? 
 A: This is from the  Encarta Encyclopedia: I INTRODUCTION Munchausen Syndrome, mental illness in which a person intentionally deceives health-care professionals into believing he or she is ill. People with this disorder migrate from hospital to hospital, attempting to get admitted by continually faking or producing symptoms of illness. They embellish their medical histories with dramatic stories to attract attention, and they willingly undergo tests and treatments-even surgery-for contrived physical or psychological ailments. The term "Munchausen's syndrome" was coined in 1951 by British physician Richard Asher, who adapted it from the surname of Baron M√ľnchhausen. The baron, a German cavalry officer in the 18th century, had acquired an erroneous reputation as a pathological liar who greatly exaggerated his adventures. People with Munchausen syndrome intentionally mislead others about their health and assume the sick role typically because they want to be cared for and nurtured. In contrast, patients with hypochondriasis are preoccupied with illness because they misinterpret bodily sensations as evidence of serious disease (see Hypochondria). In malingering, people fabricate medical symptoms or illnesses in pursuit of specific external goals, such as qualification for disability payments or evasion of military service. Munchausen syndrome represents the most extreme and chronic variant of a group of similar mental ailments called factitious disorders. Doctors diagnose factitious disorders in approximately 1 percent of hospital patients who receive psychiatric evaluations. Individuals with Munchausen syndrome tend to be men who are unmarried, unemployed, and estranged from their families. II SYMPTOMS People with Munchausen syndrome or other factitious disorders may claim medical symptoms in a variety of ways. These include (1) total fabrication, such as falsely claiming to be HIV-positive; (2) simulation, such as mimicking a seizure; (3) illness aggravation, such as manipulating a wound so it will not heal; and (4) illness induction, such as injecting oneself with bacteria to cause infection. The maladies may either be relatively common, or so esoteric that most physicians would have only a passing familiarity with them. The most frequently fabricated physical signs include anemia, rash, fever, and bleeding. Factitious psychological disorders, in which people fabricate emotional symptoms such as depression, are much less common. In Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also called factitious disorder by proxy, one person (usually a parent) produces symptoms in another (usually his or her child) to experience the sick role vicariously. For example, a mother may induce vomiting or diarrhea in her child with over-the-counter drugs, then present the child for treatment while denying knowledge of the origin of the problem. The parent also may falsely report symptoms and alter laboratory data. Ailments commonly falsified or induced in Munchausen syndrome by proxy include seizures, apnea (cessation of breathing), vomiting, and fever. III CAUSES Many psychiatrists believe that Munchausen patients have suffered emotional neglect or deprivation in their past and that their "disease forgery" becomes a way of receiving attention and support. At the same time, people with this disorder combat a poor sense of self-identity by assuming the well-defined role of a sick person. Duping medical professionals also helps stifle feelings of weakness and vulnerability. A hypothesis that brain abnormalities cause Munchausen syndrome remains unproved. IV TREATMENT Patients diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome rarely consent to treatment of their disorder. Instead, when confronted with their ruse, they generally flee and continue their deceptions elsewhere. Non confrontational strategies, such as behavior modification, have been effective in selected cases. For motivated patients, psychotherapy can both enhance insight and provide the nurturance they once obtained through falsified illness. Medications such as antidepressants may be effective when the patients have additional mental illnesses. When addressing Munchausen syndrome by proxy, doctors focus on ensuring the ongoing safety of the child. 
Q: Was the woman who killed Kyra her mother or stepmother? 
A: I’m not really sure about this one. In my opinion, I believe it was her real mother. That’s what the script says. It doesn’t exactly say in the movie. I’ve asked many people this question and half think she’s the mother and the other half think she’s the stepmother. 
Interesting....2000 me thought it was her real mother while present day me thinks it's her stepmom. I don't remember reading a script. I guess we will never know for sure.  

Q: How did Cole know that his teacher stuttered when he was a child? 
A: Remember the scene where Cole is getting ready to play King Arthur in the play and his teacher told him how their was a fire in that part of the school? And remember before that when the burnt lady was helping Cole with his makeup? The lady had died in the fire and I do believe she’s the one who told Cole about “Stuttering Stanley.” 
Q: Why did the dog run and hide under the bed when the boy who shot himself in the head appeared? 
A: I don’t think the dog could see him, but animals have instincts and the dog could probably feel a presence in the house. 
Q: Was the battered suicide woman (the one we see in the kitchen) the same ghost who opened up all the cabinets at the beginning of the movie? 
A: Yes, she was. If you’re not hiding your eyes behind your eyes, you can see that all the cabinets are open when she yells at Cole. 
Q: Were there any ghosts besides Malcolm that Cole wasn’t afraid of? 
A: Yes, he was not afraid of his grandmother or the teacher who died in the school fire. Also, I read that he learned Latin from a priest who had died at the church. Whether or not that is true, I don’t know.
Q. How did Malcolm get a hold of those files about Cole? 
A: I think he had those files before he died; that’s the best explanation I can come up with. 

Q: Why can’t Malcolm open the door to the basement? 
A: He thinks it’s locked, which is why he’s always searching his pocket for the key, when in fact Anna had blocked the door with a table because Malcolm’s office is downstairs and she’s trying to shut out memories of him. The audience doesn’t see the table until we find out Malcolm is dead. Of course he gets downstairs because he’s a ghost and can walk through the door, but he refuses to acknowledge that he’s broken any physical laws. 

Q: What was the poison Kyra was gradually killed from? 
A: I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I’m told it was floor cleaning solution. 

Q: Would you recommend the soundtrack to me? 
A: Yes! Even thought the songs are short, it's a great soundtrack (with very creepy music). I like De Profundis (the song played at the very beginning) and Malcolm is Dead. (The song they played at the end, although I think they should have changed the title of that song!) 
Q: Where did Cole get all those religious figurines he had in his tent? Did he steal them from the church like he did with that one statue? 
A: I’m guessing he did. (Tisk, tisk! Stealing from a church!) 

Q: How does Lynn afford to send Cole to a private school when she’s juggling with two jobs? And how does she afford a Volvo? 
A: I have no idea! In the movie you got the impression they were struggling with the money. But perhaps her mother had some money and gave her it when she died? (Hey, maybe that bumblebee pendant is worth some money!) 
Q: What are triangle pancakes? 
 A: I’ve never heard of them, but I’m guessing they’re pancakes in the shape of triangles. Duh. Perhaps they’re a Philadelphia treat? 
And the last segment I'll share (because I don't need to make this any longer than it already is!) is my ranking of the ghosts.

My analysis of each ghost complete with a “Scary rating” from 1-10 (1 = not very scary, 10 = very scary)
The Woman in the kitchen:
This is the first ghost that we actually see in the movie. (Well, except for Malcolm, but we weren’t suppose to know he was a ghost at that point!) She was the one wearing the pink bathrobe and was in the kitchen, the one who Cole thought was his mother. (I knew it wasn’t though!) She was actually in one of the first scenes although we didn’t see her. Did you notice how all the cabinet doors were open? Well, she was the one who had opened them all the morning that Cole was eating his Cocoa Puffs and his mother was doing the laundry. I got the impression she committed suicide by slashing her wrists (that would explain her slashed wrists!) because her husband was abusing her (that would explain her bruised face). Remember when she started yelling at Cole. Well, I assume she was yelling her husband’s name at him and that’s why she was so angry. 
Scary rating: 9.. I have seen this movie numerous times and every time she walks by when Cole is in the bathroom I ALWAYS jump or scream!   

Still true. 

Well, I’m guessing you know who this ghost is! You’re right, it’s the young teenage boy from the seventies with the back of his head blown off. Obviously he killed himself by his comment to Cole, “Come on, I’ll show you where my dad keeps my gun.” He wasn’t murdered and he didn’t commit suicide. He was probably just playing with his dad’s gun and accidentally shot himself and blew out his brains. How nice. 
Scary rating: 7…. Well, at least he didn’t yell at Cole, but that line was just beyond creepy and when he turned around, oh Lord! The first time I saw that I thought I was going to be sick!
The three ghosts hanging in the school:
This appears to be a family: there is a man, a woman, and a young boy. Like Cole told his teacher when he was in class, their school was used to hang people back in the 1700s. The man is black, the woman is white, and the child is bi-racial, so they were hung for racial reasons. 
Scary rating: 4 … There’s only one shot of them, and even though they are a little bit blue, they aren’t that scary. They don’t scream at Cole and they don’t have blood or guts gushing out of them.
The burnt lady:
This is the lady who was helping Cole “practicing his lines.” She died when there was a fire in the theater. She was a teacher and taught Mr. Cummingham when he was a student at the school. We learn that from Mr. Cummingham who tells Cole that. I’m pretty sure she was the one who told Cole about “Stuttering Stanley.” And she is one of the few ghosts that Cole is not afraid of. 
Scary rating: 7 … She seemed really sweet, but I didn’t know she was a ghost until Mr. Cummingham comes in and asks Cole who’s he talking to and she turns around and you can see all of that side is burnt. That really freaked me out!
Biker lady: 
This was the dead person Cole was referring to when his mother asked, “Where is she?” and he replied, “Standing next to my window.” She was riding her book and broke her neck in the car accident and instantly died. 
Scary rating: 4 … a little creepy looking but not too frightening.
Kyra Collins:
I thought Kyra Collins was the most complex and interesting and had the saddest story of the ghosts. Here is a young girl, of about twelve, who was poisoned by her own mother. When I first saw her I thought she had died of bulimia because she was puking and looked super skinny. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about her death, but this is my theory of why she died: Her mother had Munchausen by proxy which you can read more about if you go to Questions and Answers. Basically what it is, is when a mother purposelessly harms their child to get more attention. By the father’s comment to the mother, “You were keeping her sick,” my theory is that the mother was the one who got her sick in the first place, making it gradual at first until there was so much poison in Kyra’s body that she died.  I’m guessing that Kyra sort of figured out what her mother was doing to her and that’s why she taped it. But that just gets me even more confused. If she knew what her mother was doing, why would she keep on eating the soup, and how would she know somebody would see the tape after she died? (Remember all those tapes she had in the room), Or perhaps I’m over analyzing too much? Maybe she was just video taping her puppet show and left it on accidentally when her mother gave her the bowl of soup. But obviously after she died, she had to get Cole to help her to give the tape to her dad to show her how he died because her little sister was beginning to get sick too and she didn’t want her to die.
Haha, I love how 2000 me has the same burning questions as present day me.  

Scary rating: 8…. A very sweet little girl, she probably was but she scared me when she was unbuttoning Cole’s tent and puke was coming out of her mouth, when Cole pulled the blanket off of her, and when she grabbed Cole’s foot from under her bed. (The first time I saw that, it nearly gave me a heart attack!) Also, I was a little creeped out by her room with all those hand and finger puppets. And the scene when she's under the bed and her hand reaches out and grabs Cole? That freaked me out just a tad!
The ghost in the closet: 
This is a ghost in the movie we don’t see, but I would have liked to out of curiosity. He is the ghost Cole gets attacked by when he is at Darren’s birthday party and Darren and Tommy Tammisimo throw him in the storage locker when they tell him they’re going to put on a play called “Locked in the Dungeon” and he’s going to be the one locked in the dungeon. The interesting thing about this ghost was that he wanted Cole to open the door, but the door was already open. According to Cole’s statement, “They only see what they want to see,” this ghost could not see that the door was open. From people I’ve asked, it seems that this ghost was locked in the closet and that’s how he died. If I remember right, he says something about taking his master’s horses, so he must have been punished. It scared the hell out of me when Cole was in that small space with that scary sounding ghost. And it sent chills down my spiny little spine when the balloon pops and all you can hear silence. :::shiver::
Scary rating: 8 …. No, you don’t see this ghost, but that scene always makes me nervous.
Cole’s Grandma:
We never see her (although I wish we had!) but she is mentioned a few times in the movie. It doesn’t say how she died, but I’m guessing of old age or from an illness. She was the one who took Lynn’s bumblebee pendant which used to belong to her and moving it. I thought one of the freakiest parts in the movie was when Cole told his mom, “Grandma says hi.”
Scary rating: 1 She’s his grandmother and she loves him. We don't have to worry about her hurting Cole. 
The Spanish ghost:
This is a ghost that Cole doesn’t meet, but rather Vincent, the young man who was a former patient of Malcolm and shot him before shooting himself. After Cole confesses his secret to Malcolm, Malcolm listens to a taped session he had with Vincent. Cole reminds him of Vincent and he wants to see why this is so. During the session Malcolm is called out for a phone call and that’s when the weird noises start happening. He turns up the volume on his tape player all the way until all he can hear is static, Vincent whimpering and a voice shouting in Spanish.
Scary rating: 3 You don’t see this ghost, but he sounds kinda scary and the scene itself is enough to send chills down your spine.
Malcolm Crowe:
The only one you didn’t know was a ghost until the end of the movie (unless you caught on before that). He was fatally shot in the gut by one of his former patients, Vincent Grey. It's hard to tell if he knew he was dead or not, but if there was was any part of him that thought he was dead, he refused to believe it.
Scary rating: 1 Became one of Cole’s only confidants and helped Cole with his deep dark secret.  
Wow, that was certainly a fun trip down memory lane! It felt like I quantum leaped back into 2000 me!

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