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The Others

October 29, 2013

The Others (2001)
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Actors: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Alakina Mann

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Synopsis: In an isolated country estate in Jersey in the 1940s, a mother (Nicole Kidman) of two cocooned, light-sensitive children, tries to piece together the strange goings-on in her house….

Review: In homage to Halloween, I’ve been revisiting one or two pieces of classic horror hokum from yesteryear, and remembering how I was relatively underwhelmed by Alejandro Amenábar’s celebrated The Others when it came out, I thought it time for a reappraisal. Ultimately, my scepticism remains undimmed – and beneath the film’s polished, arthouse veneer, I still find it a fairly hollow, hackneyed genre experience.

Amenábar squeezes just about as much juice as the ‘haunted house’ conventions will allow: there are lots of things going ‘bump in the night’, a playing on catholic regalia, and the plot hook about the children being unable to be exposed to sunlight (as well containing a key clue to the ultimate narrative secret) also permits Amenábar to shoot his story in a perpetual dimness and gloom, expertly complimented by filming the outside sequences in dusky, fog-ridden weather.

Beyond that technical proficiency though, the film is still reduced to its primary narrative parlour-game of trying to guess the ghostly twist. While it’s well revealed in a (huge spoiler alert) present-day medium sequence, the need for the characters to then spend minutes in unnecessary exposition of the plot twist (which we’ve already just got) does needlessly dissipate the drama. (October 2013)

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