The Others

It's hard for me to review The Others, since a reference to a single movie (The Sixth Sense) gives away the main attraction it holds (so read no further if you think it may spoil your experience if you've not seen the film).

Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two children are living in an isolated Victorian mansion off the British Coast. They're aided by a set of housekeepers who have arrived to replace the previous servants who suddenly disappeared. Soon (but not soon enough), they hear strange voices and slowly begin to be convinced that the house is haunted. Or so it seems.

The movie ratchets the suspense level slowly, first illustrating the problems Grace faces in taking care of the two children (especially since they are allergic to sunlight and so the curtains are drawn and the doors locked at all time). Then Grace encounters the intruders and this tests her sanity until her entire reality crumbles and the pieces thrown back in her face.

The concept in this film is identical to The Sixth Sense: there are dead people who don't realise that they're dead. The movie is told from their perspective and the audience itself doesn't/shouldn't realise it until the final moments (though some people will get it). Thus there's a lot of build up to the film which is necessary to justify the running time. Neither The Sixth Sense nor The Others accomplish this justification adequately. A good hour or so is extremely slow. Of course, since everything has moved so slowly, the payoff at the end when the action heats up is greater.

One of the innovative aspects of the film is that the interactions Grace has are completely described (in contrast to interactions by Malcolm Crowe (the Bruce Willis character) with his wife, shown in The Sixth Sense, which are only momentary). Thus when the film comes together at the end, it makes far more sense than The Sixth Sense does since it is fairly consistent (in that regard, it is more like Unbreakable).

There are moments of fright in the film also, especially the last scene toward the end when the children confront the old lady (most of the audience around me screamed and jumped). Particularly noteworthy is the fact that all the suspense and fright is mostly accomplished through the cinematography and not depictions of blood and gore. The acting by all parties is excellent and Nicole Kidman carries the film well (both components absolutely crucial to make it all work). The ambient sound track adds to the creepiness.

Given the fact that there's no real way out of the build up (in fact, the more slow pacing one can get away with, the better), director Alejandro Amenabar does a fine job of creating a terrifying atmosphere. I highly recommend checking The Others out on the big screen.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||