The Others


Directed by: Alejandro Amenabar
Written by:Alejandro Amenabar
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Elaine Cassidy, Eric Sykes
Released: November 8, 2001
Grade: A-

“Sometimes the world of the dead meets up with the world of the living.”

Often made a mockery of in movies, ghosts and the supernatural are the perfect elements, that when used effectively, can send a chill down your spine.  The Others is proof of that.

Grace (Kidman) and her two children, Anne (Mann) and Nicolas (Bentley) reside in a large English mansion.  On their doorstep arrive Bertha, Edmund and Lydia looking to fill the vacancy as the house’s servants.  Grace warns Bertha not to listen to her children’s “ideas” as their wild imagination often gets the better of them.

Anne believes she sees ghosts – a man, a woman, an old lady and a boy called Victor.  Grace punishes Anne for speaking such nonsense and for frightening her brother but soon she has suspicions of her own.  Strange noises come from the house that cannot be explained.  Doors open and close of their own free will.  Her fierce denial to believe in the supernatural has her on the brink of madness.  There must be an explanation…

The Others is an impeccable illustration of how to make a great thriller.  There is little music and the tiniest sounds are amplified to keep the audience in a dead silence.  Then, the director shocks us, the music intensifies and we all jump and start whispering.

The screenplay is always the difference between a good and bad thriller.  In this instance, it’s well developed, has few holes and makes sense.  We’re become accustomed to haunted house movies (especially those of the teen variety) but this is fresh and different.  The noticeable religious elements also contribute to the absorbing plot.

Nicole Kidman is wonderful.  Following Moulin Rouge, I hope the Academy isn’t split in deciding which performance deserves acclamation.  She’s yet to receive a nomination but hopefully that’ll change come next February.  The children and also terrific and help add to the movie’s suspense.  They could easily be mocked but are quite frightening as the strange happenings continue.

The Others has been a sleeper hit in the States.  On a mere $17m budget, it’s made almost $100m to date.  Kidman isn’t an actress who takes tackles simple roles and I’m sure the intriguing screenplay attracted her to this production.  It’s great stuff.  For the first time since The Sixth Sense, we have an honest thriller that’ll give you a legitimate “chill down your spine”.  Be afraid.  Not only by the film itself, but by the fact that Hollywood for once got it right.