A welcome throwback to the spooky traditions of Jack Clayton's The Innocents and Robert Wise's The Haunting, Alejandro Amenábar's The Others favors atmosphere, sound, and suggestion over flashy special effects. Set in 1945... more » on a fog-enshrouded island off the British coast, the film begins with a scream as Grace (Nicole Kidman) awakens from some unspoken horror, perhaps arising from her religiously overprotective concern for her young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The children are hypersensitive to light and have lived in a musty manor with curtains and shutters perpetually drawn. With Grace's husband presumably lost at war, this ominous setting perfectly accommodates a sense of dreaded expectation, escalating when three strangers arrive in response to Grace's yet-unposted request for domestic help. Led by housekeeper Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), this mysterious trio is as closely tied to the house's history as Grace's family is--as are the past occupants seen posthumously posed in a long-forgotten photo album. With her justly acclaimed performance, Kidman maintains an emotional intensity that fuels the film's supernatural underpinnings. And while Amenábar's pacing is deliberately slow, it befits the tone of penetrating anxiety, leading to a twist that extends the story's reach from beyond the grave. Amenábar unveiled a similarly effective twist in his Spanish thriller Open Your Eyes (remade by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky), but where that film drew debate, The Others is finely crafted to provoke well-earned goose bumps and chills down the spine. --Jeff Shannon« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 3/29/2014...
Very scarey and twisty. I liked it alot. Could only see it once or twice. Not in my library.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Unique Ghost Story
Geoffrey Kleinman | Portland, OR USA | 07/27/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Others isn't your typical ghost story; there isn't the quantity of jump-out-of-your-seat thrills you'd expect to find in a film like this. In fact, The Others is virtually chill-free for the first hour. But what The Others lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. Instead of a roller coaster of cheap chills and thrills, The Others takes a much denser and darker approach to the ghost story. The Others takes a considerable amount of time to set everything up - almost too much. Halfway through the movie I wondered if there was going to be a pay off. Ultimately there is quite a pay off, but it takes so long to get there you might not feel it's 'worth it'. Despite the fact that I found The Others to be quite slow, I did enjoy it. Nicole Kidman does a great job as the neurotic and tortured lead, and she's backed up by a strong supporting cast. Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar lights almost the entire movie by candle light, something I haven't seen since Barry Lyndon. This gives The Others a soft and warm look that is uncommon to the genre. Amenabar also makes light a character in the film, where daylight becomes much scarier than the warmth and comfort of the dark. If you're planning on seeing The Others, I'd advise you to avoid reading any reviews which talk about the plot. The film takes a number of twists and turns which can easily be spoiled. This might be a good film to wait for DVD, except for the risk of the plot getting spoiled before you get a chance to see it. [Geoffrey Kleinman ..."
Art, entertainment and many subtle layers and messages
kate_hartshorn | Irvine, CA USA | 05/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has a number of levels, many of which are not immediately apparent because of the excellent acting, near perfect casting and exquisite cinematography. On the artistic level the movie will appeal more to artists and writers, and to those who enjoy a well crafted plot and a surprise ending.On another level, though, this movie will inspire a self examination of how one perceives realities. It does this by exposing the filters and assumptions that we all use when observing and mentally correlating those observations with our knowledge of fact into our realities. It also has an obvious message about coexistence and acceptance.Regardless of whether or not one believes in the supernatural, the story and the ending will be completely unexpected for most who watch this movie. The many clues wrapped in foreshadowing and other plot devices will not make sense until the end, but if you carefully examine them a day or so after watching this movie you'll have some keen insights into your own unique set of filters and assumptions that you use daily.There are other levels and messages within this movie that will surface days or weeks after watching it, such as the way the female characters are portrayed as more proactive, central figures than the male characters. The movie also challenges religious beliefs in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. I am not sure if this is yet another subtle layer of the plot or if it reflects the views and biases of the writers and director - but these elements are there.
If you enjoy great dialog and a masterful story with an interesting plot that is presented with beautiful visuals then you'll love this movie on an artistic level. If you enjoy mental challenges and subtlety that is presented with social and cogitative challenges you'll love this movie on a deeper level."
The Best Ghost Story Ever Made
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't want to write too much because I don't want to spoil the surprises for the spectators, but I highly recommend this movie if you like an atmospheric, spooky, intelligent, highly suspenseful, involving, beautifully crafted, acted movie with a story that will leave you quite amazed, satisfied, and wanting to see it again. Trust me, this is not your typical ghost story. Spanish director Amenabar should get the Oscar for this thrilling thriller. It's beautiful and even moving. I was not expecting to see a film in the same vein as The Sixth Sense that's better than The Sixth Sense. To use a Hollywood equation it's The Sixth Sense meets Turn of the Screw. Nicole Kidman is awesome. The rest of the cast is superb. The fog-drenched cinematography adds the right touch of mystery and horror. And get ready for one of the scariest quick-cuts in movie history when you least expect it! Have fun!"
Strikingly original and genuinely scary.
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 08/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Highly atmospheric and foreboding, "The Others" is unlike any ghost story I've seen since Robert Wise's "The Haunting" in 1963. Director Alejandro Amenabar brings to the screen a uniquely chilling tale that slowly makes its way under our skin until it's almost unbearable. I don't know which aspect of the film I liked better: the ominous setting where the eerie story takes place, or the magnificent performance from Nicole Kidman. Kidman plays Grace, a mother of two children living in an expansive New England mansion surrounded by a ceaseless fog and dry vegetation. When three house servants show up at her door, they are bewildered by the manner in which Grace runs the household, closing each door before opening another, and closing any and all curtains to prevent all sunlight from invading the rooms. We learn the sunlight is harmful to her young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). From the beginning, Anne speaks of a past event that occurred between her and her mother, and of apparitions throughout the house. Grace dismisses her comments as rubbish, but becomes increasingly uneasy once she begins hearing voices in the upstairs rooms, and finds that doors in the house open and close by themselves without a key. As the movie progresses, Amenabar creates a distinctly uneasy atmosphere in which even the audience knows better than to look at this house as little more than an expensive home. From a continuous fog to the whisperings of voices and things that go bump in the night, the scares come not from what we see, but what we don't see, which is even scarier than you may think. Amenabar proves that one needn't be subjected to a special effect in order to be frightened. What helps the movie is the fact that it has a solid story to back its scares. What starts out as a slow-moving introduction to the characters and settings evolves into a first-class mystery on par with such mysteries as "The Sixth Sense," though this film's clues are much more apparent. You may have found the pieces to the puzzle involving the three housekeepers, but that doesn't mean you've solved the film's resolution, which is an unexpected gem. The real delight comes from the involving performance from Nicole Kidman, who evokes much of the fear throughout the film. There are times when she slowly makes her way into rooms to investigate suspicious noises, her eyes growing wider with psychological fear, and times when she becomes frantic, such as when she searches desperately for the curtains taken from the windows. "The Others" may very well be one of the best scare films we've ever seen. Amenabar gives his unique story a sense of fear that comes from the mind. In a decade of born-again slasher pics and gory bloodshed and mayhem, it's nice to be able to embrace something entirely different from the rest."
We Will Never Leave This House
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 02/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To a certain extent, one's enjoyment of THE OTHERS will depend on how quickly you recognize the major plot device on which the entire film turns. Once recognition sets in, how much you are able to further enjoy the film will then depend on how much you have become engaged by the characters--and it is here, really, that the film stumbles a bit, not so much through the way it is done but rather through the way the characters must be played in order for their behavior to make sense at the film's conclusion.The premise, which seems deeply influenced by both Henry James' THE TURN OF THE SCREW and the 1960s film version known as THE INNOCENTS, concerns a woman who resides with her two children in an isloated mansion following World War II. Her situation is dire: her husband is missing in action and presumed dead; her children suffer from a rare genetic disease that makes sunlight dangerous to them; her servants have departed in the night without a word of warning. The latter problem seems remedied by the arrival of new servants--but no sooner are they installed than odd happenings begin to occur. Is the woman going mad? Are the servants involved? Have intruders secretly entered the house? Or could it be--something unearthly?The cast is exceptionally good here, with Fionnula Flanagan as the newly arrived servant Mrs. Mills and children Alakina Mann and James Bentley giving remarkable performances. But the focus is on Nicole Kiddman as Grace, a role that Kiddman plays with a white-knuckled grip and considerable ferocity--so much so that it becomes extremely difficult to like, much less sympathize, with the character. In some respects, however, this is ultimately necessary for this extremely plot-driven film to have any significant impact, and in hindsight it is hard to imagine that the role could be played in any other way; still, hindsight does not allow you to engage fully with the character when you are in the midst of the film. It is a flaw, but it is an unavoidable one--and the film is so remarkably stylish that it largely overcomes both the anticipated plot-twist and Kiddman's necessarily ferocious performance.The production values are first rate all the way down the line. Everything looks right, sounds right, feels right. But two items deserve special mention: the exceptional soundtrack, which was composed by director Alejandro Amenabar himself, and the stunning cinematography, which has tremendous visual texture and which neatly blends a fluidity of movement with a remarkably claustrophobic feel. If your tastes run to special effects and blood-spatter horror films, you are likely to disappointed, for there are none in THE OTHERS; Amenabar craftily creates tension more via what is suggested rather than shown, and doors left ajar and half-heard sounds are his devices of choice; it is all very subtle and yet remarkably chilling.The DVD package is a double-disk set, with the film on one disk and bonuses on the other. Although the bonuses are often quite interesting--particularly a documentary on individuals who actually suffer from hyper-sensitively to sunlight--they actually contribute little to the film itself, and it is a bit surprising that such a small bonus package would require a second disk. The sound for the feature is also problematic re home viewing, and I recommend that viewers play it at top volume, for there is no middle ground--everything is very quiet or very loud, and the contrast adds tremendously to the film's effect.It is extremely difficult to know how to rate this film, for as I've noted the very nature of the story has two embedded flaws: the almost inevitable recognition of the major plot device and the necessity of Kiddman's over-the-top performance. But even though I recognized the nature of the plot device very early in the film, and even though I found "Grace" an unlikeable woman, this did not actually prevent me from feeling the icy breath with which director Amenabar endows THE OTHERS. Torn between giving the film four stars and five, I err on the side of generosity; it is a classic-style ghost story, and I think most viewers will enjoy it. Reccommended."