Scott Hardie | August 19, 2001
Last night I saw "The Others" with a whole shitload of people. It was good. It was a ghost story, and it was scary, but it didn't resort to having things jump out at the audience (see "What Lies Beneath") to scare you. Instead, it used a little filmmaking technique known as "tone."

It's also skimpy on special effects, having only one shot that was obviously computer-animated. (Nicole Kidman gets lost in fog at one point, though, and the fog was probably also done that way.) Between the lack of jump scenes and the lack of showy special effects, and a definite lack of ironic self-awareness, I'd have to agree with critics that this is a very old-fashioned ghost story. There is, I suppose, one trendy horror movie technique that is used, but it relates to the ending, so I won't dare say it. :-)

I strongly recommend this movie. If you know me, you know that my second-favorite kind of movie (after martial arts movies) are ghost stories, preferably set in a haunted house. I can't think of one that I despise. Granted that, this film is still particularly well-made, trapping its small cast in a beautiful but confined space and slowly winding up the tension. I will warn you, however, that it proceeds at a very slow pace. People who don't like this movie were perhaps trained by movies like "The Haunting" of two years ago, where there's some ghostly occurrence every five minutes or less. In this film, it's a fourth that rate, but the scenes in between are often tense and creepy.

Nicole Kidman is very good, but I wouldn't call it the best performance of her career. (That would have to be Dr. Chase Meridan from "Batman Forever.") The two child actors are also quite talented. The sets are beautiful: They're no competition for 1999's "The Haunting," but they're not supposed to be on that grand scale, either. There's also some dry humor, reminding us that characters in this kind of situation keep their sanity by cracking jokes. My only real complaint is that the story is not satisfactorily explained. For instance, the character who comes into the film halfway through and then leaves a few scenes later is not explained very well. You can make guesses based on what the character says, but that's not enough. I love guessing at the meaning of a film, but not at the plot elements.

As Kelly tried to get up and take me with her at the end of the credits, I couldn't resist: "This theater is ours, and no one can make us leave."


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