The Others

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Release Date: August 10, 2001
Runtime:
101 minutes
Rating:
PG-13
Studio: Dimension Films (Miramax)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Cast: Nicole Kidman; Christopher Eccleston; Fionnula Flanagan; Alakina Mann; James Bentley

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

“The Others” reminds me of how much fun going to the movies can be!  If you’re looking for a scary date movie, look no further.  This one will have couples clinging to each other in fright and delight throughout!

Nicole Kidman is Grace, an emphatically religious woman, devoted to her two creepy children.  The creepy children, apparently, are afflicted with a condition which causes a severe sensitivity to light, so much so that they cannot handle anything more than candlelight (which, conveniently for the movie, allows for lots of dark atmosphere and shadows).  Every door in Grace’s huge, cavernous Victorian mansion off the coast of England must be closed and locked before the next can be opened, in order to prevent any light from leaking into a room where her children may be. Grace’s husband is off fighting the war (WWII), which, strangely, has just come to an end when the film opens.  Of course, the audience can pretty much deduce that the poor guy has died during battle.  Then, out of nowhere, three domestic servants arrive at Grace’s doorstep, supposedly to replace the previous three domestic servants who had abruptly and mysteriously disappeared one week earlier.  Da-dum….

Things seem to be going along rather smoothly: servants tending to the house and kids (especially the bratty daughter) and Grace frantically opening and closing doors.  Then doors start to open by themselves, curtains, once drawn, are oddly pulled back with no one in the room to do so, Grace and her kids (mostly that damn bratty daughter) start hearing weird noises that seem to indicate the presence of others in the house.  Ghosts?  Maybe, but Grace will hear none of that nonsense. She just keeps telling her kids to shut up and stop lying to her about the noises.

What follows is a series of shocks and scares, directed to make you jump right into the arms of the person sitting in front of you.  If the guy sitting in front of me when I saw this in the theater weren’t so tall, I probably would have.  Instead, I recall clutching the arm of my seat so tight that, toward the end, I thought I’d rip it right off!

As for Nicole, she’s one of those hit-or-miss actresses, electrifying in some roles (“To Die For” was brilliant), but wasted in others (“Batman & Robin”).  Yet, she hits the bulls-eye in this one, conveying fear and dread with acute accuracy and truth.  She’s a real pleasure to watch here.  Her statuesque beauty and icy intensity suit the film perfectly.  Her performance only heightens the ominous tone of the picture.

The film is a welcome throwback to a time when special effects and huge budgets were not needed to create a downright chilly horror movie.  Quite frankly, at the time this film was released, there hadn’t been such an effective major studio, haunted house movie released in some time. What? “The Haunting” (dismal); “House on Haunted Hill”? (stupid).  Finally, a fresh, frightening and genuinely scary movie for those (like myself) reared on big “event” movies that never delivered the goods.  I mean, Hollywood was in such a horror movie funk after “Scream” and its various, less entertaining knock-offs, that they had to re-release a classic like “The Exorcist” and dress it up with new sound design to make us think they still knew how to make horror movies!!  Thankfully, here we are treated to a truly scary movie, one without bloody deaths and stupid teenagers being hacked to pieces.  Let there be no mistake, I am always up for a good slice ‘em up movie, but this is an intelligent and well-crafted fright-fest, fashioned to shock the hell out of young and old alike. See it in a dark theater or in your living room with all of the lights off, and those creaks you hear in the middle of the night will certainly make you pull the covers up tight.  Break out those night-lights, you’re gonna need them!!

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