Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: "The Others" is Simply a Great Scary Movie (Happy B'day, Nicole Kidman)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 35 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Others (2001)
Running time: 104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic elements and frightening moments
PRODUCERS: Fernando Bovvaira, José Luis Cuerda, and Sunmin Park
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Javier Aguirresarobe
EDITOR: Nacho Ruiz Capillas
BAFTA Award nominee


Starring: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy, and Renée Asherson

The bump in the night, the shadows and the dark spaces, and the thrill of dark atmospherics is back in Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others. Amenabar’s 1997 Spanish language film Abres los ojos (Open Your Eyes) was remade by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky, starring the ex-spouse of this film’s star.

Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!) lives in a darkened old home with her two photosensitive children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). After three new servants arrive, Grace begins to suspect that her house is haunted. Ms. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), who seems to be the leader of the three, seems at first sympathetic to Grace’s fears, but as time goes, she and the other two come to regard, at least on the surface, Grace as problematic. The atmosphere becomes increasingly one of pure dread and fear, and much of the happenings are not what they seem.

The Others recalls Henry James short novel, The Turn of the Screw, but just that little fact can throw the viewer off the scent of who “the others” are. This film is actually closer, in its sense of mystery, to one of its horror and scary movie contemporaries, which shall remain unnamed.

Eschewing high tech special effects, Amenabar summons the spirit of Hitchcock, juxtaposing light and shadow and using shadow and space, fog atmosphere, quiet and the absence of sound, and those little bumps in the other room – everything that recalls older horror films before computer-generated imagery (CGI) stole imagination. The terror doesn’t come from a madman or monster stalking the characters. It is very much about what is and isn’t there and reality and the state of mind.

The acting by the entire cast is very good. The cast makes the audience play along with the terror and suspense, and this movie is as much a drama and a thriller as it is a horror film. The film industry needs an Amenabar. As long as the human element of filmmaking, of the hands on approach, remains his hallmark, we will be in good stead. It is a rare treat, and something like it won’t come around often, at least outside of the cable channel like Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and American Movie Classics (AMC). We can, however, enjoy The Others, this movie that deals with the fantastic and the supernatural without the aid of a hundred special effects.

8 of 10

2002 BAFTA Awards: 2 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Nicole Kidman) and “Best Screenplay – Original” (Alejandro Amenábar)

2002 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Nicole Kidman)


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