A psychiatrist struggles to cure a troubled boy who claims to see dead people while coping with a marriage left in ruins after nearly being killed.

(26 words)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Singularity Posted on May 4, 2019 in Examples.
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This is posted in response to a review by Aidan Soguero in a discussion thread that referenced “The Sixth Sense”.  I think the thread raises  an important question.  Should a logline ever include a 3rd Act Big Twist or Big Reveal such as the famous one in “The Sixth Sense”?

The reviews and the word of mouth about the Big Twist in the “The Sixth Sense” sold a lot of movie tickets.  Everybody talked about, but most weren’t revealing it to those who hadn’t seen the movie.  “You got to see it for yourself.”

Can you sell a spec script that way?

Well, the rule of thumb has been that a logline should never contain a spoiler.  It should never give away the Big Twist at the end.

Why not?

I think the major reason is practical, a matter of psychology 101: viewers won’t settle for delayed gratification. They won’t sit through 90 minutes of yawn for 5 minutes of wow! Not in an age of multi-tasking lifestyles, of streaming video, of so many distractions, so many entertainment choices.

They want instant, or at least early, gratification. So there’s got to be a hook embedded in the 1st two acts of a script that will grab and hold viewers attention, that will entertain them from the git-go.  A hook that makes it worth their time, attention and money to go along for the ride until the Big Twist at the end.

And a logline should indicate what that hook is.

Now then.  Does the logline posted for “The Sixth Sense” have a story hook?  Well, the story is not just about a shrink treating a boy. The boy has a unique problem:  he sees dead people.  And the shrink has a troubled marriage after being nearly killed (planting the Big Twist without revealing it).

fwiw

Singularity Answered on May 4, 2019.

Thanks for explanation! I see how the plant works. I also imagine his agent was probably telling studio folks who weren’t going to read the whole script about the huge reveal, no? 🙂

on May 4, 2019.

A possibility.  That’s an agent job, to do whatever it takes to get a client’s script read and sold. My remarks  pertain to a spec script by writers without representation.

on May 4, 2019.
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