I'm a fan of ghost stories, particularly of the oral variety. They were my first love in both literature and movies. I'm fond of composing them myself, around a campfire or in a big empty house, gradually building the suspense and letting it settle into a creepy climax that leaves people looking over their shoulders.

This movie tried to bring that sort of magic to the screen. I emphasize tried. It was obviously taken from the same mould as a classic ghost story. Suspense built, events were left unexplained, and everything tied into what should have been a chilling finale.

Except that everything was choreographed well in advance. Maybe it's because other movies recently released were somewhat similar, but I saw the ending almost in exactitude about 20 minutes into the film. The suspense builds, true, but it dissipates in non-events, points in the plot where something occurs because somebody decided something strange had to happen in order to keep the audience's attention. There was at least one scene that could certainly have been cut with benefit to the film, and others that should have been reworked.

The claustrophobia evident in the cinematography works -- to a point. At the instances in which freedom should be shown, the claustrophobia remains rather than departs. This leaves the viewer feeling cheated, because the story dictates a sort of emotional release and the cinematography remains rooted in darkness and enclosure. There are also points where the dialogue is extremely wide, with long pauses and slow diction, which seem rather incongruous, though this may be a bit too picky.

There are lots of questions in this film that go unanswered, and those that have answers given are the most obvious ones, which you've basically figured out yourself. All in all, I found that this film dragged along rather than pulled me along, and that I was neither frightened nor satisfied with the ending.

The high point would have to be that the child actors, Alakina Mann and James Bentley are amazingly talented, and extremely realistic in an English Schoolboy/girl sort of way. Nicole Kidman's performance is adequate but lacking inspiration. The frantic nature of her character is muted somewhat by what I believe was intended to be period acting. It was hard to tell.

By reaching too high, this film managed to fall down. Expecting a classic, gradually constructed ghost story and receiving a pale imitation of one is a disappointment to any fan of the genre.

Casting Information:

Nicole Kidman ..............Grace
Christopher Eccleston ..... Charles
Fionnula Flanagan ......... Mrs. Mills
Elaine Cassidy ............ Lydia
Eric Sykes ............... Mr. Tuttle
Alakina Mann .............. Anne
James Bentley ............ Nicholas
Rene Ascherson
The Others (2001) - Weasello Rating: {>>>>} (Oh Yeah!) {{ Previous || My Reviews || Next }}
Please note that this review is laden with spoilers.

Plot Outline: A single mom (Grace) and two children (Nicholas and Anne)live in a house near the English Channel, circa 1940. The husband has gone off to fight in World War II and never came back, which is revealed as the movie continues onward. To add to the claustrophobia of the movie, the children have Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XPS) - a rare condition where they will die in minutes if exposed to sunlight. This keeps the movie dark, and escape from the house impossible (during daylight hours, anyways).

A series of strange, ghostly events occur, working Grace up into a frenzy over the course of the movie. Nicholas is a frightened young boy who is scared of the events occuring around the house, but Anne takes it all in stride as some typically curious children would. As 3 servants show up on the front door looking for work, the plot thickens as their involvement in the strange events is slowly uncovered.

As the family is tormented by slamming doors, shaking chandeliers, and reports from the children of seeing people in the house increase, Grace nearly goes insane tearing the house apart looking for the "intruders." She slowly accepts the impossible - the "intruders" are, in fact, ghosts.

It is about this time that the children find a graveyard with the servant's names on them - they died in 1872! The movie quickly builds to a climatic ending scene where it is finally revealed that the family, along with the servants, have been dead this whole time and the "intruders" are, in fact, living people trying to cope with a mysterious haunting.

My Opinion: I went in to this movie completely blind, seeing nothing but the one overplayed scene in the commercials ("But I am your dahhhhhter!"). As I popped the DVD in, I was informed that this would be a Horror movie. I immediately tensed up and was quite rigid throughout the movie, waiting for some blood or gore to appear.

To my great releif, it never did. This movie is a hands-down thriller, and should never have been marketed as a Horror. If you were to temporarily forget the precursors of the similar-themed "dead-but-don't-know-it" movies (6th Sense, etc.), this is an excellent, wonderful, suprising movie. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first of it's kind, and much like lblack (and his writeup above), I did predict the ending 20 minutes beforehand.

Well, not entirely. There were still a few suprise twists - the servants were portrayed as evil and having something up their sleeve for the entire movie, but in the end they just wanted to help - anyone who says they predicted that is lying! But I did have several your dead/their dead/who's dead? scenarios running through my head before the finale scene.

The movie had me on the edge of my seat, and I particularly enjoyed the scene with the piano room. Grace hears a piano playing, and she enters the piano room only to have the door close behind her. She opens the door, obviously inspecting the new-found-self-closing ability. The door slowly creaks closed again. She presses the door open one last time only to have it slammed in her face - a very loud scene in a very quiet movie, this made me jump. It made me think. It made me wonder in terror what was forcing that door closed. The end of the movie reveals that she was most likely tormenting some poor human in the realm of the living, and both were probably scared out of their boots! (as is evidenced by the rapid locking of the door by the living)

All in all this is a terrific movie with terrific acting, particularly by the children. As the bonus disc states, the casting person spent the better part of a year searching the public school system (and not talent agencies) for the "perfect children..." and boy was it worth it. Nicole Kidman played a frantic crazywoman the best that anyone could.

I recommend all to watch this movie. Do it tonight. You will become a better person if you do.

Notes:
    The DVD comes on 2 discs, the first containing standard movie options while the bonus disc includes:
  • A Look Inside The Others - IMHO, a boring "philosophy behind the movie" documentary of about 10-15 minutes.


  • *** Jun 22/02: Hmm, the end half of my writeup seems to be missing, apparantly eaten by the database or something.. I'm looking around for it. ***

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