The Others (2001)

others_2001_poster
The Others (2001)
  • Time: 101 min
  • Genre: Drama | Horror | Mystery
  • Director: Alejandro Amenábar
  • Cast: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston

Storyline:

A woman named Grace retires with her two children to a mansion on Jersey, towards the end of the Second World War, where she’s waiting for her husband to come back from battle. The children have a disease which means they cannot be touched by direct sunlight without being hurt in some way. They will live alone there with oppressive, strange and almost religious rules, until she needs to hire a group of servants for them. Their arrival will accidentally begin to break the rules with unexpected consequences.

2 reviews

  • The Others is a psychological horror movie directed and written by Alejandro Amenábar, and it’s his first English language movie. Amenábar is a director, actor and a composer. He wrote the screenplays for five of his movies, and composed the majority of the soundtracks. The Others was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, which is pretty rare for a horror movie. As a big fan of ghost movies, I consider this movie to be a masterpiece.

    On a huge estate, in an always darkened house – darkened because of the two of her photosensitive children – lives Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman), the mother of a boy and a girl whose husband hasn’t returned from war in the past year and a half. As a very religious person, Grace insists on her children’s religious education, teaches them about God’s morals and reads verses from the Bible. Because of her inability to conduct all of the house work, she employs three workers who should help her with the children and around the house. Since she has a heavy rheumatic disease, Grace keeps silence in the house, but it is one day disrupted by piano sounds, children’s cries and sounds of footsteps. Her daughter Anne (Alakina Mann) tries to convince her and her brother that she frequently sees a little boy, Victor (Alexander Vince), and his family, but Grace blames the workers for everything that’s happening.

    The Others has a very good atmosphere because of the creepy soundtrack (present in all tense situations), the old house in which many families have lived, the constant fog and the isolation from every form of civilization. Despite the fact that there are not many jump scares and blood, the tension is still present and it’s created mainly by making the house dark (the curtains are always closed) and silent. Nicole Kidman, in spite of being reluctant to accept the role, since before this she was working on Moulin Rouge!, turned out to be excellent in the horror genre. She amazingly portrayed hysteria, as well as kindness to her folks, and her facial expression freezes one’s blood (like in the scene where she starts finding out the truth). The movie is dominated by the opposition between the guessing what could be going on, the religious beginning and the overall thematic – and what’s really going on, and the sudden annihilation of the aforementioned.

    The role of the children in the movie was very big and very successful. Their regular conflicts about their mother and father create drama and tension. The character who leads the audience, and the other characters, to the discovery of what’s happening, is nurse Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), who tells Anne that she trusts her and that she also feels the presence of the boy Victor. She also tries to convince Grace of the existence of the supernatural. As a remark, I’d say the character of Charles Stewart (Christopher Eccleston) felt unnecessary – he has no impact on the rest of the characters or the overall plot. The movie’s ending is exceptional and is worth every minute of the movie’s duration. The movie doesn’t want to leave the revelation to the very end – instead, the truth is progressively exposed throughout the movie, but still manages to lead to an unexpected finale. The Others, despite not being a movie that will haunt your dreams for weeks, manages to keep its quality and level of creepiness with every subsequent watch. A definite recommendation!

    Rating: 8/10

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  • Alejandro Amenabar’s first foray into English-language filmmaking is a largely successful one. One of the most striking filmmakers to emerge in the late 1990s, Amenabar is a skillful craftsman whose talent extends beyond directing into screenwriting and also into film score composition.

    Born in Chile but raised in Spain, the director of acclaimed dramas such as Open Your Eyes (1997) and the Oscar-winning The Sea Inside (2004) gives us a fine addition to the horror genre with The Others, a mainstream production made with authority.

    The Others is assured of a spot in the upper echelons of contemporary horror cinema where films like Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) and Bayona’s The Orphanage (2007) reside. In an uninformed reality, Amenabar’s film comes across as a fusion between the two abovementioned pictures.

    That being said, it would make more sense to chronologically observe the influences each has had on one another over the years. Similar to Shyamalan’s film, The Others has a climatic twist at the end (don’t worry, there are no spoilers ahead) which equals in ambitiousness but strangely unmatched in terms of shock value.

    The Others stars an excellent Nicole Kidman in the lead role as the mother of two children whom are photosensitive (read: allergic to sunlight) and must be kept perpetually in the dark (an intriguing plot device). The huge house they live in does have a sinister past of a ghostly nature. What seems like a straightforward ghost story turns into an exercise in atmospheric mood setting.

    Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe creates lingering, almost elegant-like shots of the exterior of the house which is nearly always hidden in thick fog. For interior scenes it is mostly lit by candlelight (a requirement of the plot device), giving an eerie glow that is both warm yet chilling.

    Speaking of chills, The Others has one prolonged spine-tingling sequence in the final third: the two children ‘escape’ from the confines of their room in the middle of the night only to find themselves in a small graveyard with suspicious servants pursuing them. The mood setting here achieves its pinnacle. Amenabar does stick to the rigid expectations of the genre, but he explores them with a fresh approach mainly through its unconventional plot.

    The role of darkness versus light is reversed in this film. Here, the children seek solace in the dark but are traumatized by daylight. Their mother, on the other hand, feels uncomfortable in darkness but is at ease when it is bright. This allows Amenabar to tap on the fears of the characters and to create tension in two extreme settings.

    The Others is clever filmmaking, boasts artistry and is clear in its execution. At its heart, it is a film about challenging one’s beliefs and the need to stand true and firm when these beliefs are challenged.

    GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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