Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD (And yes, you do have to include a spoiler alert for a 20-year-old movie)
Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others celebrates its 20th anniversary this month (August 10 to be specific). The film has won many prestigious awards and was also the first English language film to win a Best Film Award at the renowned annual Spanish Film Festival, the Goya. The film also won three Saturn Awards (Best Horror Film, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman, and Best Supporting Actress for Fionnula Flanagan). Although Amenábar wrote the script, he does not believe in ghosts or the existence of God. His inspiration came from tales told to him in childhood and personal experiences.
The Others may seem to start as a typical ghost story in an old, haunted house scenario. However, the buildup skillfully twists and spins the story into something unpredictable, shocking, and emotional.
This gothic, supernatural and psychological horror is set in 1945 on the British channel island of Jersey immediately following the end of World War II. Grace Stewart (Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman) lives in an isolated manor house with her two children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). Her children both suffer from an uncommon disease known as photosensitivity (visible light can cause the skin to have an adverse and deadly reaction). After all the servants mysteriously abandon them Grace hires housekeeper Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), a mute maid named Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), and gardener Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes). Upon their arrival, strange events begin to occur in the house. Grace’s daughter, Anne sees another family within the house and an old woman, whom she refers to as a witch. Soon Grace begins to hear voices and heavy footsteps and becomes fearful that someone is trying to hurt her children.
The film itself is a brilliant gothic-styled horror masterpiece that uses the concept of creating fear from a sense of paranoia and neurosis. What we are unable to see or logically explain successfully creates a sense of panic and fear within us. Grace is the epitome of a woman with a fractured mind from a sense of abandonment by a husband who left to fight in WWII and feeling trapped in her situation due to her children’s illness. Kidman shows a unique sense of dedication to the film and her character.
There are numerous subtle hints throughout the film that gives the audience some imperative clues to help them figure out the mystery. Anne mentions quite a few times about “the last time mother went mad”. The migraines that Grace suffered from and the way the children would hyperventilate sometimes both represent the manner in which these characters met their deaths. The fluidity of the plot as the mystery unfolded plays out like a dark fairytale where you never expected the mother figure to be both the protector and villain of the story.
Striking some poignant chords, Grace’s character can be forgiven by the audience despite the horrific reveal because of her unusual circumstances. She mentions a few times to her housekeeper about her loneliness and a sense of feeling cut off from everything and everyone. For most of the film, until the main characters receive a sense of closure and clarity, the manor is constantly surrounded by a never-ending foggy atmosphere. A metaphor no doubt to show how clouded their minds were while they lived in denial. The absence of light was also used to represent keeping someone in the dark or away from the truth.
The Others stands up well against the test of time and deserves several viewings to catch all the great elements that it has to offer. You would rarely find a movie in this particular type of genre that delves so deeply into the psychosis created from denial along with being an almost perfect ghost story set in the post-WWII era.
Alice’s Score: 8 out of 10
So are you a fan of The Others? And what’s your favourite scene? You can check out more haunted house content below:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More