This is a joint review from me and my dear friend Kim, who runs the brilliant By Hook or By Book. Thank you so much Kim for taking the time to do this with me, it’s been so much fun! We decided a little while ago that we wanted do a joint review for Halloween and when Kim suggested The Others as our movie of choice I knew it was perfect. A good old fashioned ghost story, yippee!
To make things a little different I’m posting Kim’s review and she is posting mine. Head over to By Hook or By Book to see what I thought of the film and you can read Kim’s thoughts below. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
The Others (2001) Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy, Alakina Mann, and James Bentley
Directed by: Alejandro Amenabar
Summary: It’s 1945 and a woman named Grace is is secluded with her two young children, Anne and Nicholas in a mansion in Jersey. The war is over, but Grace is anxiously awaiting the return of her husband Charles who went off to fight the Nazis but now is missing. At the same time she’s reassuring her two children that they’ll see their father again, she seems to be giving up hope herself. After her entire house staff disappears overnight, Grace hires three strange servants who mysteriously appear. The peaceful existence the family had been sharing is shattered, as strange and terrifying events begin to unfold. Is there something in the house with them or is Grace losing her sanity?
I saw this movie when it first came out in the theaters and instantly loved it. This is the first time I’ve re-watched it and while I didn’t find it quite as perfect as when I first saw it, I still enjoyed it.
Let’s start with the actors. Grace is a role that is tailor made for Nicole Kidman and she plays her brilliantly. She’s got a backbone of steel, yet at the same time is almost fragile. She’s trapped in this huge house with two children who have this strange photo sensitivity and cannot be exposed to any direct light. Drapes have to closed as well as the doors of any room they’re in. While at first I sympathized with her plight, as the movie unfolds Grace is revealed to be overbearing and a bit of a religious fanatic. She terrifies her children with tales of what awaits them in the afterlife if they lie. She also goes back and forth between being protective (overly so in some instances) to almost abusive in regards to her daughter Anne. Grace is also extremely proud and refuses to even entertain the idea that she may be wrong about something. You can see this particularly in her interactions with Anne and her new housekeeper/governess, Mrs. Mills. Once events start happening that not even Grace can ignore, you literally see her brittle facade start cracking. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of a terrified Grace frantically searching for her hidden tormentors, clutching her shotgun and rosary beads as she runs through the mansion. It literally gave me goosebumps!
All of the actors are fantastic in this, but there are two others that stand out. The first is Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Mills. She’s both benevolent and slightly sinister at the same time. She seems to care about Grace and the children, yet she clearly is hiding something and has a hidden agenda. Both of the child actors are phenomenally good, but it’s Alakina Mann who not only holds her own against experienced adult actors, but actually steals some of the scenes she’s in. I went back and forth between sympathizing with her rebellious feelings toward her mother, and being genuinely creeped out by her.
I do think Christopher Eccleston as Charles is rather wasted in this. He just appears out of nowhere only to disappear shortly after. There just isn’t any clear explanation as to why they even made him part of the movie. The character adds absolutely nothing to the story, and in my opinion is a jarring note to an otherwise perfectly told story.
Writer/Director/Composer Alejandro Amenabar creates this creepy dark atmosphere where you feel like you can’t trust anyone. From the constant fog that surrounds the island to the sinister Victorian mansion whose rooms have to constantly be blocked off, it all lends to this sinister, claustrophobic atmosphere. Even the music is creepy and really adds to the feel of a 1950s classic ghost story or Hitchcock movie.
There is naturally a “twist” and I remember being quite surprised by it the first time I saw the movie. Even though I knew what was coming this time, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the film.
The Others has no gory moments, or “gotcha” scenes that will make you cover your eyes or jump out of your seat. It’s the characters, their interactions with one another, and the slowly unfolding events that make this such a compelling movie and a worthy addition to any ghost story lover’s collection.
I want to thank my dear friend Emma for teaming up with me for our first joint (and my first) movie review. This was such fun and it’s reminded me that sometimes it’s nice to venture outside of your comfort zone.
This post is dedicated to Vinnie – because he christened Kim and I with one of our favourite nicknames – the Sassy Sisters! Thanks Vinnie.