Westley | Stuck in my head | 08/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Other" portrays young twin brothers (Niles & Holland) in depression-era, rural Connecticut. The boys live with and are being raised by their large extended family (including a very young John Ritter) after the death of their father. Their mother (Diana Muldaur of "LA Law") is unstable and has become a near recluse in her attic bedroom. The boys are thus free to run wild and wreak havoc on their family and neighbors.
Released in 1972, "The Other" is rather eerie with supernatural overtones, including a magic ring and a strange "game" the boys like to play with the help of their grandmother (the talented stage actress Uta Hagen). The tone is helped immensely by the controlled direction of Robert Mulligan ("To Kill a Mockingbird") as well as uniformly good acting; the twins are played skillfully by Chris and Martin Udvarnoky - this movie was their only one.
On the negative side, the story builds very slowly, and some viewers may be put off by the languid first half. However, the movie definitely pays off: the last 20 minutes are tense and chilling. There are a number of twists -- mostly obvious but very effective nevertheless. Overall, "The Other" is a solid suspense film that will entertain viewers who enjoy atmospheric chillers. Hopefully, it will be released soon on DVD, as the cinematography is really quite beautiful.
A Great Movie--and a WARNING!
Tom | 08/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great and creepy film with some really clever twists that'll give you chills. The author (Tom Tryon) and cast did a wonderful job relating a very thoughtful, spooky, and edgy tale.
WARNING: A few of the reviews here at Amazon give away key surprises and plot twists. I therefore strongly recommend, if you haven't seen this film, to see it before reading any of these tell-all, giveaway reviews.
Ranks with the Best
Douglas Doepke | Claremont, CA United States | 08/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Psychological horror at its best. No one who's seen The Other goes away unimpressed. As other reviews indicate, the movie has developed a strong cult following and deservedly so. Like so many low-key gems, this one too would likely fade into oblivion were it not for VHS and the internet, which can now build an audience from the grass-roots up. And this obscure little movie certainly merits revival.
Director Mulligan worked against convention, filming his classic in bright open sunlight, instead of the creepy shadow and low-key stage lighting dictated by Gothic tradition. But the style works, thanks to a fluid and highly intelligent camera. Watch the opening scene, as the slow pan meanders its way toward the solitary boy revealed finally in dreamy soft focus. This reverie sets the perfect psychological tone for the story and is key to the over-arching plot device. There are other moments of slow, silent pans that lend both atmosphere and creepy suspense, and I particularly like the way Mulligan stays with Niles' little world in spellbinding fashion. That way, the surrounding mayhem is only glimpsed and not belabored, allowing our imagination room to take over. For fans of the genre, his technique is reminiscent of Peter Weir's 1970's co-classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Horror films rarely rely on acting for their impact. This one, however -- as other reviewers point out -- is a rarity. The performances are first-rate, particularly the astonishingly fine turn by the Udvarnoky twins. Chris who plays Niles achieves a naturalness and spontaneity that is itself almost scary. I don't think I've ever seen a farm boy portrayed more convincingly, nor has boyish exuberance been more expertly conveyed than in his spirited gallop to wherever he's going -- which makes the main plot device all the more sinister. Then too, there's Diana Muldaur's agonizing portrayal of the mother. It is only through her stricken eyes that the audience comes to realize the enormity of what's happening, while the shot of her wraith-like face framed by a dirty window pane is enough to haunt many a sleepless night. Moreover, the bustling farm family, always busy wth this and that, appears straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Yes, the story unfolds in a complex manner, placing a bit of a burden on the audience. And there are a few holes, as when the elderly neighbor calls the magician Holland instead of Niles -- presumably she's close enough to the household to know better. Nonetheless, there's not an ounce of fat on Tom Tryon's screenplay, while the scattered parts come convincingly together by movie's close. For those fans max'ed out on slasher-gore and blood-fest, this exercise in implied horror is the perfect antidote -- and a worthy addition to the legendary tradition of Nosferatu, Vampyr, and Val Lewton's imaginative 1940's cycle of Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Seventh Victim. So don't miss it."