The Others (2001) – Alejandro Amenabar

The 101 Horror Movies list is coming to an end, there’s like 8 left, 7 now! But not to fret, I was tended to during Christmas, and very shortly while the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list continues, we’ll be adding the 101 Action Movies to the rotation, as well as a slew of films from the book Great Movies – 101 Years of Film.

I quite enjoyed re-watching The Others from writer/director Alejandro Amenabar (who also did the music incidentally) and starring the lovely Nicole Kidman.

Whether you’re watching the film for the first time, or the 12th, the film works. Even knowing the entire story, which allows you to watch it from a while new angle, it’s still incredibly creepy, once more showing that substance trumps style, and that a good ole haunted house story, if done right, can still be frightening.

It’s 1945 on the Island of Jersey in a fog-enshrouded mansion. Kidman, who always pulls off the era’s styles to lovely effect plays Grace Stewart, looking after her two children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), while awaiting the return of her husband Charles (Doctor Who no. 10 – Christopher Eccleston) from the war. Attended to by three servants, Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and Lydia (Elain Cassidy), the family is beseiged by strange and unusual events.

kidsIt’s a spooky and atmospheric ghost story made the more haunting by the children’s condition, they have a rare skin disorder that keeps the children in the dark, literally, and requires the locking of each and every door in the house as characters pass through them to keep the children safe.

There are some very creepy moments in the film, Anne’s insistence that there are others in the house with them, including a rather frightening looking old woman (Renee Asherson) who asks her all kinds of questions, Nicholas’ scare when Anne tells the boy she can see to touch his cheek, Grace wandering into a room with everything draped in sheets, and all of them seem frighteningly human in shape.

The film balances its creeps with character development (an oft over-looked trait of modern horror films) making you care about the characters, and then by extension what happens to them.  Almost the entire film is confined to this mansion, giving it an almost claustrophobic feeling, with only the briefest excursions outside onto the grounds, which has a chilling moment that implies that the help knows more about what is going on in the house than they’ve revealed…

spookyWhen Charles arrives at home, Grace believes things will return to the way things were, but learns quickly that there is something wrong with him, and their relationship grinds to a halt as he keeps himself bed-ridden until he decides to leave them, alone, in the lone house in the fog. And there’s a terrifying hint at something that may have happened when Grace chastises Anne, and says, in tight close-up “Stop breathing!”

Mrs. Mills advises little Anne, that her mother won’t see anything until she’s ready to accept that something is actually going on, a moment that comes when she finally comes across the Old Woman, dressed as, and speaking with, her daughter’s voice. Creepy!

Before he leaves Charles confronts Grace about what happened That Day, and we’re given hints again of some terrible tragedy. The children refer to it as the day she went mad.

The revelations, when they come are heartbreaking, we learn why Charles has to leave, and can’t stay, we learn what happened That Day, and we learn who the Others really are.

It’s a lovely, creepy, and moody haunted house story that is gorgeously shot, and has fantastic performances, as well as some truly spooky moments.

Did you see it?

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