Others, The (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001) Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan, Alakina Mann, James Bentley
The first English-speaking, Hollywood-financed film by the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, The Others clearly sets out to renew the tradition and does so with quiet authority. With its sinister Victorian country house (as much a character as the humans), a preternaturally sensitive pre-teen brother and sister, a cold, neurotic woman at the centre, and a clutch of menacing servants, the movie acknowledges a debt to The Turn of the Screw (and Jack Clayton's 1961 film version, The Innocents). It's also influenced by The Curse of the Cat People, directed by Robert Wise, who in 1962 made The Haunting, another film that Amenábar evidently admires. ... Like all properly told ghost stories, there are twists and surprises here, and we happily surrender ourselves to the seductive narrator. Guardian.
Having something as terrible as a ghost appear to a child was regarded by Henry James as one turn of the screw - to two children, two turns. M. Night Shyamalan confirmed the first half of that in The Sixth Sense, and now Alejandro Amenabar completes the axiom with his sturdily old-fashioned and tremendously enjoyable ghost story, set in occupied Jersey in 1945. ...
The cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe doesn't stray far from classic generic boundaries: the fast, swooping shot up a gloomy corridor, accompanied by Amenabar's pleasingly trad shuddering violins, the shocking, disorientating encounter with the face in the mirror, then turning to the distraught original - all these moves are brought off in with great style and confidence, and he has a coolly heart-stopping scene in which a glowering face in the dark turns out to be the portrait of some distant civil war ancestor. Managed with less skill, it might have been absurd; here it delivers an effectively nasty jab.
What a relief to have a scary movie instead of a Scary Movie - no boring irony, no tiresome inverted commas. It is well constructed, as opposed to incompetently deconstructed. Whether or not you are actually scared depends on a willing susceptibility. But providing that submission is accomplished - well, many is the pleasurable and invigorating frisson to be had. Guardian.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 14 November, 2021 | Now: 14 November, 2021