A devoutly religious woman who lives in a darkened old house on Jersey island with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted.
Amelia: The Others always makes me think of Shirley Jackson. The tone and pacing are just right to make me think that The Haunting of Hill House’s author was behind it. But she wasn’t. This perfectly toned and crafted classic feeling ghost story was written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar. Hats off to the man everyone, he created a ghost story that’s pretty much perfect.
Billy: This might be my favourite movie of everything we’ll watch this October. I’ve watched The Others enough that all the twists have become untwisted for me and all that’s left for me is just a slow burning character study. I love it. Nicole Kidman is unmissable as a traumatically oppressed, authoritarian mother. Her behaviour throughout the film is so well planned out, degenerating from mother-knows-best into the cupboard opening, table slamming madness of a true poltergeist. Alejandro Amenábar crafted a film about agnosticism. Grace’s journey going from a woman of diligent religious belief to someone who simply doesn’t know is beautiful. There’s so much left up in the air by the time this movie ends that you could spend real time afterwards theorizing and thinking about its mythos.
Amelia: Grace’s steadfast belief in the Bible is as creepy as the ghosts haunting this dim, dank Manor. Telling her children that they’ll burn in Hell for any lie they tell? Making them clutch their rosaries for comfort instead of comforting them herself? Demanding the Virgin be asked for forgiveness at every little transgression? These types of parents don’t create the steadfastly religious children they think they do. These types of parents create the frightened children that Nicolas is and the defiant children that Anne is. I was left to deduce my own feelings about God and religion and came to the conclusions that I did happily. Watching Grace force Catholicism on her children is viscerally upsetting for me. Never mind the ghosts, keep the woman that believes everything she reads in the Bible to be true away from me!
Billy: I know Amelia doesn’t agree, but the chunk of the film where Graces wanders out into the fog and reunites with her husband come home from the front is one of my favourite parts of the film. I love the empty look in Eccleston’s eyes, like he’s seen and knows too much. In contrast to what Mrs. Mills says, I truly believe he does know he’s dead. Coming home, knowing his wife and children are dead as well breaks him even more than war ultimately did. I love how the shots isolate Grace and Charles from each other during their argument. There’s often room left in the shot for each of them but they don’t cross the frame’s line of sight. They even go to the trouble of having a mirror in one shot that could have easily reflected him, but chose to have him invisible from Grace’s perspective. That’s just as offputting as seeing Dracula without his reflection and truly makes Grace feel alone. When they share the bed together before he disappears completely from the film, it’s a teasing moment that ultimate doesn’t last.
Amelia: It’s true, I dislike that part. It’s even slower than the rest of the movie and that’s really saying something! I’m all for teasing out the plot in horror narratives, but I just don’t see his point. Everything between Grace and her husband could have been done between Mrs. Mills and Grace for the same result. Even the sex that’s implied to be had before he disappears once again could have been done between Mrs. Mills and Grace – I’m not judging!
Billy: The absolute creepiest aspect of this film is the children. I still remember how well the scene with the old woman was used in the trailers, but the two child-actors really kick it up to eleven in The Others and make the film worth watching. Their condition makes them look ghostly pale, alien, and off-putting. That boy needs a tan. And for child actors, they sell themselves so well. They’re so frightened of the light by their conditioning that their screams seem to put them in genuine danger. The way the daughter says “find the curtains” in such a commanding tone sells to the audience that part of herself that hates her mother.
Amelia: Seven and a half ghosts out of ten
I’ve loved The Others since I first saw it. I wish more horror was like The Others. Well thought out plots with compelling characters and amazing actors, instead of girls willing to flash their tits, buckets of blood, and jump scares without atmosphere.
Billy: Nine and a half ghosts out of ten
This movie has everything I want from a great film hanging out in the horror genre. It lingers in my mind long after I watch it. It has a genuinely spooky atmosphere. It has Christopher Eccleston. The ending is pitch-perfect with the whispers of “this house is ours” showing a genuinely compelling motivation for a typical haunting.