In M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 thriller The Sixth Sense, the color red has an important impact and meaning within the film. The director was careful with the way red was used in the film and it was mostly left out of the movie except for certain important objects in important scenes. The use of red in the film was to provide clues to the audience about the fate of Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) after he is shot in the opening scenes.
The vivid red objects symbolized things that had been touched by the dead in the other world. The tent in Cole’s room is red and this is where he encounters several dead people who need his help. Anna, Crowe’s wife has bright red anti depressant pills and is wearing a red gown at an anniversary dinner. Cole wears a bright red sweater when he attends Tommy’s birthday party and he encounters a spirit banging in the closet. The doorknob to Malcom’s basement is also red since he tried to open it and Malcom is dead.
The use of red in the film works very well in the mise en scene as a powerful visual and a subtle clue to the audience. Since red represents things that have been touched by a ghostly spirit it hints that Dr. Malcom Crowe was fatally wounded when he was shot, which is revealed in the twist of the film.