From the opening shot of The Others, I could tell that Alejandro Amenabar had a very specific aesthetic and motif he wanted to play around with. The religious exposition is directly followed by a blood curling scream from Nicole Kidman as Grace and the mood is set. The story follows Grace as she hires a new set of servants to help taker care of her house and her children who suffer from a deathly photo-sensitivity affliction. As the curtains start closing the tension starts rising as the supernatural mystery plays out.
The film nails it’s aesthetic in every single scene. The lighting creates an murky feeling. There’s always a sense that something unknown is lingering with Grace and the other residents. The scenery outside is constantly filled with fog. Everyone feels cut off and the residents feel isolated from the outside world. The trapped feeling highlights the paranoid feeling that comes from constant feeling that intruders are present and about. This helps the movie feel scary without ever relying on gimmicks that plague a lot of the horror movies coming out now. There’s no gore. There’s no false jump scares. There’s just tension that’s created from the eerie and unknown atmosphere.
Kidman’s acting is on point and she transitions perfectly from manic and paranoid to a religious disciplinarian. Never once do her actions feel out of place and her expressions of pain keep an emotional weight in the movie that help give it very much needed substance. The child actors are also decent in the movie. Their performances never feel too out of place and make more sense as we learn more about how they’ve been raised and lived their lives.
This leads to the main problem with the movie- some of the bigger twists are certainly surprising and are subtly built up in terms of clues, but others feel out of place and disjointed. The film is aesthetically beautiful which helps mask the hollowness of certain story points. At times it feels like the beauty of the film is done to distract us from those flaws and it works for the most part, but by the end of the movie I was left unsatisfied with the way certain key questions were left.
TLDR: The Others is an aesthetically pleasing, suspenseful, ghost mystery. While it’s provocative in it’s Gothic presentation, certain story beats feel hollow and rushed.
Final Rating: 8.4/10. If you enjoy moody horror pieces that focus more on suspense and feeling, this movie should be right up your alley.
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!