stories seemed to be pretty much over (dead, you might say
couple of years ago, but they have made one hell of an impressive
comeback. There have been good ones (The Sixth Sense, Stir of
Echoes), okay ones (The Haunting) and just plain bad ones
(The House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts.)
interesting that in a time so full of so many hyper-realistic and
awful horrors, the subtle drawing room dread of haunts can still
reach us so deeply.
The Others is even more old-fashioned
than even most haunting films. It has a studied formality and moves
at a stately pace, and yet it is much scarier than most films with
more obvious thrills. Nicole Kidman is perfect as a tightly wound
woman living with her two sickly children in an old castle in the
waning days of World War II. She has not heard from her husband
since he went off to war, and has come to realize that she probably
wont again. The childrens illnesses
if they are exposed to direct
light their skin will blister and they could potentially die
doesnt seem too realistic medically, but it gives the movie an
eerie, closed-off feeling, with all the curtains drawn and doors
Three houseworkers, an apparently middle-aged woman, a gruff
older man and a younger woman who is a deaf/mute, appear one day to
help Kidman in the keeping of the house. They are mostly friendly
but seem somehow mysterious.
Suddenly, the children are hearing
strange noises, which Kidman denies until she can no longer ignore
them herself. Unlike so many ghost stories, you really do not get to
see the haunts; you just experience their effect in unraveling the
inhabitants of the house.
The trick ending about the spirits is one
hell of a grabber
though just a tiny bit reminiscent of The
yet still it is impressively chilling. What more do
you need from a haunted house movie? (9/01)
Jay S. Jacobs
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April 25, 2022.