The Others Review
Synopsis:A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted.
The Others (2001), directed by Alejandro Amenabar, is one of those movies that sticks with you, and not just because of the shocking twist at the end. It’s intensely atmospheric, an understated horror that sends chills up your spine without ever needing to resort to cheap scares, monsters or even a clear villain. We’re never sure what to be afraid of, only that something sinister is surely going on.
The Others is essentially a haunted house movie, but this isn’t your traditional haunted house. The film takes place entirely in a stunning countryside mansion. No cobwebs, gargoyles or spooky portraits here. The mansion is, however, perpetually shrouded in a thick fog — which is one of the film’s most striking visuals.
Nicole Kidman plays an uptight and deeply religious mother of two, whose husband went to war long ago and never returned. Her young children have a rare and fatal allergy to sunlight. Because of their condition, the interior of the mansion home is always dark — the curtains are drawn in every room to prevent the daylight from entering — and the inhabitants must find their way around using only candle light. It’s an ingenious story device that not only moves the plot forward, but also enhances the unsettling atmosphere. How many times have you watched a horror film and wondered why the characters don’t just turn on the lights? In this film, the light itself is one of the threats.
The story begins with Kidman’s character, Grace, waking in bed with a scream, as if from a terrible dream. Soon afterward, three old locals arrive at the mansion looking to fill the open position for house and grounds keepers. Nicole shows the three of them around the sprawling residence, sternly enumerating the house rules — notably that every door must be locked before the next one is opened. The house is like a maze, and it’s inhabitants are locked inside, both literally and figuratively.
Things start to get even stranger quickly. Grace’s daughter starts to speak of a boy and his family living in the house that no one else can see. Grace is fed up with her daughter’s lies at first, but it’s not long before she herself starts to feel the presence of the “intruders,” as she calls them. She never wants to use the word “ghosts” — the concept of the spirits of the dead still walking the Earth conflicts with her religious beliefs.
The film builds the suspense slowly, revealing detail after detail that makes us question what is in the house, what connection they have to the characters, and what the new housekeepers have to do with it all. The atmosphere becomes increasingly foreboding and tensions rise between Kidman and the housekeepers, her children, and even herself and her beliefs. The surprising ending masterfully brings together all the little clues we pick up along the way, that seemed like throwaway details but turn out to be hugely relevant to the story and characters. There is perhaps a little too much explaining that happens after the big reveal, but not so much that it takes away from the power of the story.
The Others is a wonderful exercise in crafting a unique atmosphere, one that is simultaneously eerie, enchanting, and subtly foreboding. Superbly acted and elegantly directed, “The Others” is certainly a haunted house film to be remembered.
About The Others (2001)
Original Title: The Darkness
Runtime: 101 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Total Avg. Votes: 15
Writers: Alejandro Amenábar
Director: Alejandro Amenábar