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The Others
cast: Nicole Kidman, Finonnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes, and Elaine Cassidy

director: Alejandro Amenábar

101 minutes (12) 2001
Buena Vista VHS rental
Also available to rent on DVD

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
In the aftermath of the Second World War, three new servants arrive at an isolated mansion to replace the recently, mysteriously departed staff. Their mistress (an enthralling Nicole Kidman) runs the household with military efficiency; her two children have a life-threatening allergy to light, and live in perpetual gloom. And in the shadows, something else is sharing the house with them. The children claim to see ghosts; the new servants have a secret - and what was the terrible recent tragedy that the mistress won't allow anyone to speak of?
   The Others is that incredible rarity: a horror movie that's actually scary. Even while teetering on the edge of cliché - dour servants, menacing fog, a big empty house - writer and director Amenábar draws us into a claustrophobic, meticulously detailed world. Post-war Jersey, famously decimated by occupying forces, is a convincingly desolate location, and the family's devout Catholicism provides a background against which otherworldly visitations and eternal punishments seem all too real. And there's at least one real drop-your-popcorn-and-scream-out loud moment...
   If you have any experience with this kind of movie, you will guess the twist, which may lead to a slight frustration with the middle section of the film. Yet when the final revelation comes, you're so caught up in what it means to these characters, and their extraordinary, tragic reaction to it, that the plot transcends all familiarity. After a couple of tremendous Spanish films (Open Your Eyes in particular being far superior to the remake, Vanilla Sky Amenábar has thankfully relocated to Hollywood with his talent intact. Expect great things from him.
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