This year’s “Sixth Sense”, Amenbar’s “The Others” proves to be a quite effective old fashioned haunted house tale. Like ‘Sixth’ its grindingly slow, has a great twist, no gore, and next to no special effects yet proves to be far more memorable than most out and out horror movies of the last few years – had ‘Sixth’ not come along this would probably be spoken about as much. As is though its still a highlight of the year.
Amenbar handles film atmosphere extremely well. The setting is perfect – a gigantic Victorian mansion surrounded by omnipresent fog, creepy wind noises and set during the war (so there’s no neighbours/visitors and the possibility of Nazi intruders). On top of this comes story elements which boost that – servants who know more than they’re letting on (and one whose a mute), a daughter who taunts her brother, the Kidman character’s hardcore Christianity, gravestones, and of course the kids condition – they can’t be exposed to sunlight so all curtains have to be shut and doors between rooms closed and locked.
All this leads up to some really creepy moments which rely on your imagination and very simple tricks (moving doors, whispering, dark rooms) rather than cheap scares. There’s a real freaky sequence in a room full of furniture covered in sheets. Acting is superb – Kidman owns the movie and has the role/accent downpat, Alakina Mann and James Bentley as the kids are just great – I normally loathe on-screen kids but they are just rock solid.
The story on the other hand, whilst very clever, is a little too simple – the sudden emergence and disappearance of a certain character halfway through the flick seems like a filler sub-plot. The pace is slow, which is fine as its necessary for a film like this, but there’s a few scenes (namely family scenes) that could’ve been cut or edited down. These are just minor complaints though, this is a real highlight of the late Summer.