The Others (2001) by Cian Morey May01


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The Others (2001) by Cian Morey

Sooner or later they will find you.

This film is, rather surprisingly, not very well-known. I was inspired to write a review of the film and promote it a little more after I was persistently struck by the fact that nobody had a clue what I was talking about when I recommended The Others. In each case, the disappointment and vague humiliation was such that I did not persevere with pointing out the excellent attributes of the movie, but afterwards I always regretted that. Cloud of Think, however, provides me with a fantastic opportunity to peacefully detail its magnificence without anybody cutting me short and saying, ‘I’ve never heard of that.’ Therefore, this review of The Others will probably be only the first in a series of reviews of obscure but excellent movies.

The Others is a psychological horror film written by Alejandro Amenábar. It is about the only noteworthy thing that he has ever done. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Grace Stewart (played by Nicole Kidman), a devout Roman Catholic, lives in a remote country mansion with her two children. Both children suffer from the uncommon disease of xeroderma pigmentosum, characterised by photosensitivity, and so the trio’s lives are structured around a set of rules to ensure they are never directly exposed to sunlight. The arrival of three new servants to the house (the previous servants disappeared one day without warning) coincides with a series of strange incidents, which grow steadily more sinister throughout the movie – a piano is heard but there is nobody playing it, an impenetrable fog lies around the grounds of the mansion at all times, and Grace’s daughter sketches a mysterious family which she claims to have seen in the house. As the film progresses, it is revealed that the servants know more about the peculiar occurrences than they are letting on, and Grace begins to realise that they are not alone in the house.

The plot of the movie is very good, and, despite its hinging on a twist ending to deliver the biggest punch of excellence, it doesn’t seem slow-moving at all. Until the last twenty minutes, it might be at risk of falling into the trap of being a standard, unoriginal ghost story, but the twist ending – one of the best in the history of twist endings, I think – completely redeems it, and will set you off thinking back over everything you have just watched in a totally new light. Throughout the rest of the movie, Alejandro Amenábar succeeds admirably in creating an exceptionally tense and spooky atmosphere, even though the film is almost devoid of frights. The photosensitivity disease is an interesting touch by Mr Amenábar, I think, as it allows for a dark, creepy setting that seems necessary rather than unexplained and clichéd. All of the acting is good enough, but there are a few standout performances, namely Nicole Kidman as Grace Stewart and Fionnula Flanagan (an Irishwoman) as Bertha Mills, one of the new servants.

Overall, this was a fantastically chilling, well-performed and excellently written piece of art which I can guarantee will be very much enjoyed and held in high esteem (and rightfully so) by anyone who watches it.