Say “haunted house movie” to any recent cinema-goer and the only shiversit’ll produce will be shivers of fear remembering the remake of TheHaunted. The genre has not had the best few years, so it’s fitting that’The Others’ now comes along to redress the balance.
After years of self-referential, irony laden slasher movies it’s a pleasureto report that The Others is that rare beast – a genuinely tense, subtlehorror movie. As in all the best films of this type, the horror lies not onscreen, but in the viewers mind. Don’t go and see this if you’re expectinggory killings and ritual disembowelments. The beauty of The Others is morepsychological, and this makes for a far more sinister, disturbing film.
Directed by 29-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Amenabar, The Others tells thetale of a young mother, Grace, who lives in a darkened house in Jersey withher two young children. The children suffer from a rare disease which makesthem photo-sensitive to light, and the darkness lends the film a very eerietone. When three servants turn up looking for work, various supernaturalevents begin to occur, until Grace and the children becomes convinced thehouse is haunted. To say any more would be to spoil the film, but suffice tosay, things are not as they seem.
Amenabar certainly seems to be some kind of whizzkid, not only directing thefilm, but writing it and creating the music as well. His last film, OpenYour Eyes, caught the attention of Tom Cruise (who is executive producerhere) and Cameron Crowe, and is soon to be released as the remade ‘VanillaSky’. He demonstrates here exactly why so many Hollywood players find him sopromising. He builds up the tension absolutely perfectly, with creakingfloorboards and ghostly voices, until by the end of the film the viewer isalmost as jumpy as Grace is in the film.
Nicole Kidman proves in this film just what a good actress she is. Coming sosoon after Moulin Rouge she proves she’s one of the most versatileactresses of her generation. Her character here is totally different to thatof Satine from Moulin Rouge – uptight and religious, carrying a understatedsadness that is never fully explained until the film’s conclusion. There’salready talk of an Oscar for this performance, and rightly so.
The supporting cast are also outstanding – James Bentley and Alakina Mannmanage to avoid the cute kids syndrome, Bentley in particular giving HaleyJoel Osmont a run for his money. Eric Sykes also makes a rather bizarreappearance as one of the sinister servants. His performance is slightlyjarring at first, but soon settles down to become satisfyingly creepy.
If Scream 3 signalled the death throes of the post-modern horror movie,The Others marks the reappearance of the more retro model. Amenabar iscertainly a name for the future – if he keeps up this level of darkatmospherics and head-spinning, twist-ridden plots, he won’t be needingCruise and Crowe to remake his films.