Supernatural Thriller
The Others
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Dir: Alejandro Amenábar
Star: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Eric Sykes, Alakina Mann, James Bentley
Cert / Year: 12 - PG-13 / 2001
Format: DVD R1
'

Set on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1945. Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) awaits the return of her husband from the war, whilst endeavouring to run their secluded mansion in which she has lived in virtual isolation for years together with her children. When her servants dissappear overnight, Grace is forced to look after the house herself. In addition to her new duties around the house she also needs to keep constant vigilance over her two children, Anne Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) as they are both afflicted by a rare dermatological disorder (skin disease) called Xeroderma Pigmentosum which makes them photosensitive or allergic to sunlight. Forced to keep the house in almost complete darkness Grace obsessively monitors every door is locked and every curtain drawn where her children may be. Grace struggles to maintain her sanity as with the arrival of three new servants, strange things start to happen. Doors open by themselves and the children see apparitions whilst Grace hears strange voices and noises in empty rooms.

The recent movie making trend of Hollywood has been somewhat plagiaristic or highly derivative, so it is a pleasant change to find a film that manages to be imaginative and original (in a nostalgic kind of way) and unsurprisingly it is written and directed by a European. The Others is a scary and stylish suspense thriller that has a few shocks and surprises along the way but it's main strength has to be it's relative simplicity. A good old fashioned ghost story is very rare to find these days and even rarer is one that works so well just as a supernatural thriller instead of being convoluted by excessive gore, deranged slashers or over the top special effects.

The stunning direction of Alejandro Amenábar and some outstanding cinematography truly compliments his story and affords the movie an air reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. In a Hitchcock stylee Alejandro Amenábar exploits the subtle little things and uses them to contribute to this supernatural thriller as it allows your imagination to run riot, which inevitably unnerves you far more than what you may have seen on screen. The imaginative and innovative lighting is beautifully orchestrated and creates some captivating visual ambience and fantastic use of low light and shadow. You can appreciate a little of Grace's obsession and can almost empathize with her as she attempts to confine her rooms to darkness. Combined with the amazing lighting, the film's sound is equally impressive and creates a moody and deeply atmospheric and impressive piece of work.

Nicole Kidman appears painfully thin in this film but her gaunt appearance works to the films advantage as she provides an outstanding and captivating performance as Grace and even her English accent is tolerable (for a change) . I feel I may have to re-evaluate my opinion of her after this film as she has a supreme intensity that I feel I may have previously overlooked. The chemistry between Kidman and her on-screen children Alakina Mann and James Bentley is remarkable and they prove a convincing family unit and compliment each others own talents. Alakina Mann provides an amazing performance and is very impressive as is the expressive James Bentley. Small part for British comedy god Eric Sykes in a serious role as the gardener, but it is always good to see him put in an appearance no matter how small it may be.

On the whole the film is tense, atmospheric, subtle and occasionally unnerving. The film revolves around a few primary characters but escapes the quagmire of over developing the characters, so the film successfully manages to build some quite unnerving tension. Some splendidly retrospective and creepy gothic visuals afford the film an almost traditional feel. The film maintains a good pace and gradually builds the tension very well, basically a very well put together film that has moments of sheer brilliance encompassed within an intelligently written script. What few special effects are used in the film are very well done and almost minimalistic compared to other similar films. The effects are far from overwhelming and strategically used so you hardly realise that they are effects.

If you like decent supernatural thrillers then this film will be right down your street, but if you are more into the slasher kind of thing then you probably won't enjoy this film. The film relies upon suspense as opposed to shocks so it manages to make your hackles rise for a lot of the film. Dramatic, sinister and chilling is probably a good description of the film as opposed to gory and violent. I must confess that although I did find the film enjoyable, like the The Sixth Sense I also found it predictable but for many viewers the film will doubtlessly have a surprising and shocking twist. A stylish and beautifully produced movie, with a classic feel and several subtle levels.

Another impressive piece of work in a flourishing horror movie renaissance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Stunning
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Unnerving and chilling - Very good
DISC 1
Features Main Feature
Interactive menu
Sneak Peeks - Series of new movie trailers
DISC 2
Features "A Look Inside The Others" - interesting 30 minute documentary
"A World Without Sun" - Very interesting documentary about a real family living with the disease Xeroderma Pigmentosum
"Behind Closed Doors" Behind-the-scenes featurette
Visual Effects mini featurette
Stills Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Verdict There are plenty of interesting extra's and the cover is reversible with French dialogue on one side and English on the other. On the whole not a bad two disc set, but surely they could have gotten all these extras onto one disc. Incidentally if anyone would like to know more about the rare disease Xeroderma Pigmentosum, as featured in this film there is an official website that can be found here.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home