DVD Release Date:  October 16, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  April 27, 2007
Rating:  PG-13 (for violence, criminality, sensuality and language – all involving teens)
Genre:  Supernatural Thriller
Run Time:  97 min.
Director:  David S. Goyer
Actors:   Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Marquette, Callum Keith Rennie

In this adaptation of the Swedish novel and subsequent film Den Osynlige by Mats Wahl, Justin Chatwin (War of the Worlds) plays Nick Powell, a successful high school senior in the Pacific Northwest.  Nick’s father died when he was a boy and he now has a tense relationship with Diane (Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River), his wealthy but aloof mother.  Nick dreams of becoming a writer and attending summer school in London.  He has, in fact, made plans to attend—with or without her approval.  In the meantime, he sells term papers to fellow students.

Self-effacing and a bit of a wimp, Nick’s best friend Pete (Chris Marquette, TV’s Joan of Arcadia) has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd.  Pete is constantly in debt to Annie (Margarita Levieva), the school’s petty criminal.  When he can’t pay Annie back, she attacks him in the school bathroom.  Nick bails Pete out, but when she’s fingered for a heist, Nick ends up taking the blame.  He is left for dead after a brutal beating.

The next morning, Nick walks out of the woods and attends school, but no one can see or hear him.  He soon discovers that he is actually alive, caught somewhere between the living and the dead.  He somehow realizes that he will remain this way until they find his body, so he sets out to help the authorities do just that.

Together with screenwriters Mick Davis and Christine Roum, director David S. Goyer (2004’s Blade: Trinity) has, however unwittingly, created more of a CW television drama than the ghostly thriller it’s been promoted as.  Certainly, it has very little in common with The Sixth Sense, which the film’s jacket boldly insists.

The film promotes a positive message about the importance of parenting.  Despite their obvious differences, Nick and Annie have much in common.  Both have been neglected, and both feel unimportant and even invisible.  In fact, it’s only when Nick can actually see behind the scenes that he starts to feel alive again.

Unfortunately, the film’s basic premise is flawed.  The villain becomes the hero, with a new villain inserted at the end, along with a weird love story.  Her “accomplice” also has no reason to be involved—at least not one that’s credible.

A bigger problem is that the supernatural aspect—which is supposed to be the film’s hallmark—is inconsistent and confusing.  Late in the film, when Nick is apparently close to death, his “second body” starts falling asleep.  Why didn’t he ever do that in the first place, when he was brutally beaten?  Later, another character lands in the same state, but only for a few moments—yet his dying body remains in limbo.  Nick keeps yelling at people, but only one can actually hear him—and even then, it’s late in the film and only vaguely, without any lead-in as to why this suddenly starts happening.  Finally, the villain receives help—again, at the end of the film—from a strange form of magic that was never introduced or explained.  And it’s never really clear why Nick figures out that he’s alive (despite the use of an almost-dead bird).