THE OTHERS (PG-13)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Producers: Tom Cruise, The Weinstein Bros., Paula Wagner, Rick Schwartz
Written by: Alejandro Amenabar
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Alakina Mann, James Bentley
Rating: out of 5
When it comes to horror films, there are a couple of kinds. One is the jump-out-from-behind-the-curtains kind, which is great for immediate thrills. Those are the kind that make you check your backseat on the way home from the theater or force you to leave the light on in your closet. Theyíre fun, but after awhile, the scared feeling fades away, leaving you to drive home in peace and hang up your clothes with impunity. However, itís the other kind of horror film that can screw you up for life. Iím speaking, of course, of the psychological horror film; movies like THE EXORSIST and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT that cause nightmares months, hell, years after the initial viewing. These movies represent filmmaking at its best because they actually affect a person on more than just a gut level. They get into your mind and re-cross some wires.
So with that in mind, I happily add Alejandro Amenabarís THE OTHERS to the second category. This is the story of a young British woman, played magnificently by Nicole Kidman, who lives in an old mansion on the British isle of Jersey with her two children and a handful of servents. Slowly, she begins to realize that her house is populated not only by the living, but by the dead as well. Now, this is one of those movies that has the prerequisite ďsurprise ending,Ē so in the interest of protecting its secret, I shouldnít say more about the plot, lest I reveal too much.
But the plot doesnít need to be discussed anyway because, really, itís not what makes this movie so damn good. The thing that makes this movie different from your average horror film is Amenabar, and especially cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who takes this film to the next level with some of the most strikingly beautiful shots Iíve seen in a long time. To call THE OTHERS lush would not be doing it justice. Itís the first film Iíve ever seen that managed to maintain a rich visual palette while still remaining icy cold. While watching, one gets the sense of seeing a richly detailed painting move across the screen. Add this cinematography to Amenabarís obvious talent for drawing out the tension of any scene and you have one of the most beautiful, frightening films to come out in a long time.
Of course, to overlook the cast would be wrong. Kidman does an amazing job as the movieís lead. She strikes the perfect pitch between stern mother-figure and frightened ingenue. However, my highest praise goes to Alakina Mann, who plays Kidmanís daughter. She absolutely blew me away. In a performance very akin to Haley Joel Osmentís in THE SIXTH SENSE, she shines as the person in the house most in touch with the paranormal happenings that surround her. The rest of the cast is great as well, but itís Kidman and especially Mann who youíll be talking about on the way out the door.
Now, I did take issue with a few things in the film. For one thing, there are a few plot holes that could have used some patching up and the aforementioned surprise ending was a little too similar to a certain other movieís ending for my taste (youíll know it when you see it), but really thatís nit-picking. THE OTHERS more than makes up for any minor flaws with its visual style and talented cast, making this one of the true delights of the summer. Go check it out and make sure to bring a friend. Youíll need a hand to hold.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
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