TBT Review: ‘The Others’ Whispers, Knocks and Holds Up
Couldn’t Wait Until October. Had To Get My Horror Movie Fix
After remembering this movie when it came out and how popular it was, it baffled me that I had completely forgotten about its existence until I happened to breeze by it on Amazon Prime. Usually great horror or suspense movies never leave my mind for too long, but “The Others” came out in 2001 and here I am in 2016 just reaccumulating bits of its greatness. How come my mind turned a blind eye to this Nicole Kidman classic? Is it really a classic or is that my 11-year-old self lying again? With that said, asking these questions prepared enough reason for me to open my review journal, seeing if it really was all that great or if my adolescent mind (which has stuck around in parts) was being over-zealous about quick jump scares and an incredible twist.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 5
There’s no doubt about the director, Alejandro Amenábar, knowing what he’s doing when it comes to film. Being the director and writer and composing the music puts a lot of responsibility on you as an artist, but having these responsibilities also gives you plenty of artistic freedom, which can either hurt or benefit a film’s chances. In the case of “The Others” technicalities, everything from the precise cinematography to the gorgeous costumes to the believable performances helps you realize Amenábar having artistic freedom can be an incredible thing. The final product of “The Others” is a beautiful piece of cinema that feels good on the eyes, even though most of it takes place in the dark.
Looks aren’t everything, though. It all starts from an idea, but the actual making of a film cannot begin unless it has its blueprint… a.k.a. its script. If you’ve read several of my other articles, then you know scripts, writing and everything about each of those are my forte. With its perfectly crafted dialogue and tight story weaved throughout the mysterious mansion, Grace Stewart (Kidman), her children, and the mysterious new housekeepers feel alive and fresh inside this period piece. Every scene is compelling, even if the beginning is slow. A slow pace doesn’t necessarily kill a sequence or an entire film as long as it’s appropriate and flows smoothly. The script’s dialogue and characters keep things interesting while the external occurrences keep the audience on their toes and their senses alert. Mix those up with a solid story and a strong internal battle for the protagonist, and there’s no denying that “The Others” is a prime example of a wonderful ghost story.
What a ghost story needs, also, are great special effects. Now, “The Others” isn’t the type of movie to have CGI, and saying “special effects” doesn’t necessarily mean CGI anyways. How Amenábar incorporates special effects in this movie is through more practical means. With camera tricks, props and several things making the house go bump in the night, these practical special effects immerse you deeper into the experience that’s haunting this family. The sound design is where I believe the movie’s “special effects” department truly shines. Sound effects are another means of how Amenábar brings the supernatural entities to life, creating a horror experience that feels like an homage to the old school effects of the Universal Monster movies. There were several times where they sparked fear inside my 11-year-old self, and I was watching this during the day.
Entertainment Value – 4
While still sticking to the practical special effects used for the majority of the film, they are probably what I enjoyed the most about re-watching the movie at an older age. They made the jump scares worth the surprise, and allowed the subtle, building and lingering scares to be more enthralling and appropriate. They mixed well with the opening slow pace of the film, which I did say was absolutely appropriate, but even then I couldn’t help to find myself bored at times because of the pace. This isn’t because I’ve seen the movie before and know the famous twist. I was still entertained even though I had that critical information. A movie like “The Skeleton Key” was excellent, but knowing its twist completely ruined a second viewing. I believe it’s because I’m not the biggest fan of period pieces. Even though they always have gorgeous costumes and excellent sets, any movie that’s a period piece automatically makes me a little bored in someway.
The story, characters and twist are exceptional when talking about the tools of storytelling, yet I still feel like “The Others” is a Nicole Kidman vehicle instead of it being a story about Grace Stewart and her children. Kidman is fantastic in the movie; there’s no denying that. Although, in my opinion, the story needed to be more about Stewart’s relationship with the children and how she must overcome the griefs and hardships of being a single mother. The internal strifes are there in the script and in the visuals, but my mind still couldn’t stop reeling around the fact that Nicole Kidman was the main focus, not Grace Stewart. It took me out of my movie-watching element at times.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
In all honesty, the movie absolutely holds up. The same scares that got me at 11 years old still get me at 26, but I don’t see myself selecting “The Others” to be a year-round horror movie I watch for entertainment. I may watch this again during the Halloween season or something, but other than that I don’t even want to buy the movie on Blu-ray to have in my collection. It’s a great piece of filmmaking with an excellent story, and that’s all it needs to be for me. Sometimes watching great things sporadically is how they should be taken. Just because something is great doesn’t mean they need to be oversaturated with love.
- Entertainment Value
"The Others" is a movie from 2001 that still holds up as a great piece of cinema and a great ghost story. Writer/Director Alejandro Amenábar shows off his filmmaking skills and his skills as a film composer. His style was perfect for this ghost story, and his overall grasp on the story, twist and characters allows the audience to be cascaded through a seamless dark abyss of horror. While I can't remove myself from seeing this as a Nicole Kidman vehicle rather than a ghost story about a mother and her children, the film scared and entertained me just like it did when I was 11 years old. That's including the fact that I remembered the famous twist in the end. Knowing the twist to a story can sometimes ruin the experience. That's not the case for "The Others."
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