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The Sixth Sense's Original Story Would Have Sent The Movie In A Completely Different Direction

"The Sixth Sense" was a monumental hit when it first came out. It grossed $672 million off of a $40 million budget, which isn't bad for an entirely unique property. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, and it introduced the general public at large to the sensibilities of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, namely his affinity for twist endings. 

Shyamalan rode that success all the way to the bank, kicking off a lucrative career as one of the most idiosyncratic filmmakers in Hollywood. He's had some noteworthy hits as well as a few flops throughout his career, but he's on a bit of a renaissance at the moment. Beginning with 2015's "The Visit," Shyamalan has seen his career on a bit of an upward trajectory, making audiences realize why they fell in love with his movies in the first place, which seems to be remaining in place with his latest venture, "Knock at the Cabin."

But there's a chance none of those films would've happened in the first place if it wasn't for "The Sixth Sense." It's hard to imagine the cinematic landscape without it, and Shyamalan recently revealed how the movie could've been a lot different had he gone with some original ideas. 

The Sixth Sense was originally a serial killer movie

Filmgoers know the story of "The Sixth Sense" by this point. It follows child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who takes on a new client, a young boy named Cole (Haley Joel Osment), with the unique ability to see ghosts walking around the living. Of course, it ends with a massive twist we won't spoil here in case you haven't seen a 24-year-old movie by this point. But ultimately, the film works because it's about finding connection and learning to let go. It's unclear if those same themes would've been present had M. Night Shyamalan gone with his original idea for the story. 

In an interview with Yahoo!, Shyamalan broke down his career and revealed that he had different ambitions in mind for "The Sixth Sense." For starters, there wasn't going to be any therapy, and it would've taken more after "The Silence of the Lambs." As he put it, "Originally Sixth Sense was some kind of version of a serial-killer movie. It was more kind coming out of my love of Silence to the Lambs and that genre, mixed with the supernatural. In the first iterations of the screenplay, there was a crime-scene photographer whose son saw ghosts. So that was kind of how it started to come to me. But then it evolved... like halfway through, I came up with the idea of a therapist and changed everything, and concentrated on two families."

By the sound of it, "The Sixth Sense" could've been more of a horror movie than a psychological thriller. Seeing how "The Sixth Sense" is widely considered Shyamalan's best work, it's a good thing he changed the story. It began an illustrious career that's resulted in some truly unique works of art.