Screen sensation Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut) delivers an utterly unforgettable performance in this scary and stylish suspense thriller. While awaiting her husband’s return from war, Grace (Kidman) and her two young children live an unusually isolated existence behind the locked doors and drawn curtains of a secluded island mansion. Then, after three mysterious servants arrive and it becomes chillingly clear that there is far more to his house than can be seen, Grace finds herself in a harrying fight to save her children and keep her sanity. Acclaimed by critics everywhere, the unpredictable twists and turns of this compelling hit will keep you guessing as it keeps you riveted to the edge of your seat!
A welcome throwback to the spooky traditions of Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and Robert Wise’s The Haunting, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others favors atmosphere, sound, and suggestion over flashy special effects. Set in 1945 on a fog-enshrouded island off the British coast, the film begins with a scream as Grace (Nicole Kidman) awakens from some unspoken horror, perhaps arising from her religiously overprotective concern for her young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The children are hypersensitive to light and have lived in a musty manor with curtains and shutters perpetually drawn. With Grace’s husband presumably lost at war, this ominous setting perfectly accommodates a sense of dreaded expectation, escalating when three strangers arrive in response to Grace’s yet-unposted request for domestic help. Led by housekeeper Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), this mysterious trio is as closely tied to the house’s history as Grace’s family is—as are the past occupants seen posthumously posed in a long-forgotten photo album.
With her justly acclaimed performance, Kidman maintains an emotional intensity that fuels the film’s supernatural underpinnings. And while Amenábar’s pacing is deliberately slow, it befits the tone of penetrating anxiety, leading to a twist that extends the story’s reach from beyond the grave. Amenábar unveiled a similarly effective twist in his Spanish thriller Open Your Eyes (remade by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky), but where that film drew debate, The Others is finely crafted to provoke well-earned goose bumps and chills down the spine. —Jeff Shannon
Barnes and Noble
Young Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, whose art house hit Open Your Eyes was remade Stateside as Vanilla Sky, makes the cultural crossover to Hollywood with The Others, a chillingly fresh haunted house movie. Nicole Kidman stars as Grace, an upper-class British woman who attempts to keep a tight grasp on life in the cavernous mansion she shares with her sheltered, photosensitive children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The arrival of new, unannounced servants (Fionnula Flanagan, Eric Sykes, and Elaine Cassidy) coincides with increasing weirdness in the house, including voices and noises that wear the badge of a good old-fashioned haunting, it would seem. Kidman anchors the film, inviting sympathy even as her hysteria worsens. Her Golden Globe-nominated performance is rivaled by those of the child actors, whose charm—and evident dread—lingers after the last reel. The film has plenty of scares to it, and Amenábar doles them out masterfully. Plot and character build-up lead to continually mounting shocks that climax in the best horror genre twist since The Sixth Sense. The two-DVD set includes a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary and various featurettes. Tony Nigro