The Others

9 out of 10


Unavoidable Isolation

One of the great problems with any haunted house horror flick is to explain just why so many extraordinary circumstances could have rendered the characters are so isolated in this age of communication. Spanish director Javier Aguirresarobe`s basis is a brilliant masterstroke. During nearly the whole of the Second World War, the Channel Islands, a small archipeligo of the coast of France, became the only part of Britain to fall to Nazi occupation, and with the group being cut off by the invasion of France in 1944, even the tiny German garrison became totally isolated from the war. Living in a 50-bedroom mansion on Jersey in 1945, Grace could not have been anything but isolated after her husband is missing in action and the servant performed a walk out en masse just before the start of the film.

To make things even worse, she must stay to tend to her children who suffer from a photosensitive disease making it impossible for any curtains or doors to ever be left open, whilst she herself suffers such severe migraine that she must live in almost complete silence. With no company nor radio nor post nor news nor even view out the window, she keeps her sanity under such appauling conditions, reading the Bible and teaching her children.

With home help almost utterly nonexistant during the war, even on the mainland, she is obviously delighted when two old people and their mute daughter turn up at her front door looking for work as servants. Soon however, she begins hearing strange noises and her children report seeking others moving about the house. At first she suspect the servants, who are behaving strangely and the children, the oldest of which being a determined prankster.

As Grace, Nicole Kidman again establishes herself as one of the most talented and versatile actresses of the modern era, playing in a singing romantic lead in "Moulin Rouge", a scruffy, down-at-heel, fluently Russian wife in "Birthday Girl" to this, a scared and increasingly desparate housewife trying to cope in hopeless isolation in possibly her finest ever role. Here is a person that both she and the theatre-going public deserves to be offered the range of roles that she is. Supporting her as a superbly creepy-smug and phoney maid is Fionula Flannigan, as Tuttle the gardener is an aging Eric Sykes, once one of Britain`s foremost standup comics and a person I thought had himself died years ago, and, as their mute daughter, Elaine Cassidy.

Although seemingly slow at the start, the film builds superb atmosphere that is quite extraordinarily creepy, and yet believeable, without any need of multimillion dollar special effects, just a good solid story and a brilliant cast. Furthermore, even though the end might seem predictable, the sudden return of her husband (Christopher Ecclestone) in the middle throws many sharply off course for guessing a very stunning ending.

With ironically Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman`s then real life husband as an executive producer to back the film up, this remains a fabulous, old style creepy thriller, you`ll want to see again and again, preferably behind the sofa!

A Horror Flick No Others Can Match

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett