Friday, April 22, 2011

The Others

On the British Isle of Jersey, a woman and her two young children await in seclusion in a Victorian mansion for her husband serving in World War II. Due to being photosensitive, the children are kept in constant darkness by way of curtains and locked doors, in fear that they will develop blisters and suffocate if exposed to sunlight. One day, a trio of servants shows up at the front door to offer their services after the previous staff has mysteriously vanished. Then the children begin to report ghost sightings in the building. At first, the woman chalks it up to child playfulness but quickly realizes that their are more sinister forces at play which may be a threat to her and her children. The Others is the work of Chilean writer/director  Alejandro Amenabar. Starkly filmed, it is a ghost story not filmed in the usual manner. It is paced and builds its scares through good acting and mood, not by camera tricks and cheap set-ups. Nicole Kidman, one of our acting treasures, brings credibility to her role as a stern and possibly unstable mother. The film has a major plot twist which may be predictable to some (I try not to think about those things when watching) that is handled nicely. This movie should be a standard for how horror films are made, not the exception. Maybe the trick for a film like this to be successful is to have a strong base: good production values, camera work, and acting and then work the scary stuff in later. I believe the problem with the state of horror films is that they are put out by novices who care not for the look or quality of their films (on the whole). The Others proves that a horror film can be written, shot, and acted and still be a scary movie as well.