I’m not a fan of horror movies.
But I very much like a ghost story, and The Others is a well told one.
Despite my desire to analyze the second half of the film, I’ve decided not to spoil any plot points. I rewatched the film last weekend, and it has aged like a fine wine. As a tale about the emotional toll of isolation, it will resonate with today’s emerging-from-covid-lockdown audiences even more than it did in 2001.
Nicole Kidman plays Grace, a British woman who lives with her two children in a remote house. World War II has ended, and her husband is presumed dead in the fighting. Adding to Grace’s stifling seclusion is the fact that her children both suffer from a rare disease where any exposure to light will kill them within hours. (DVD extras confirm this is a real disease, called xeroderma pigmentosum.)
Heavy curtains cover the windows. Every door remains closed and locked.
They live in a prison of perpetual darkness.
When three new servants arrive, strange things begin happening. Anne, the daughter, insists she sees a young boy in the house. Is she lying to torment her younger brother? Are the new servants a malevolent force?
Or is Grace simply going mad?
This is a psychological thriller of the highest order, and certainly one of Kidman’s greatest performances. It’s set in the aftermath of World War II, but could be any time, any place. Maybe some figured out the end game early on, but I was smacked across the face by the reveal. And unlike some films that rely on a surprise ending, there’s more to absorb on a rewatch even after all the twists are on the table.
No monsters. No gore. No special effects.
It’ll leave you breathless without spilling a single drop of blood.
This is part of my Movies I’m Grateful For series, running daily through the month of November.
Other films include: Splash | New Moon | The Lucky One | Thelma and Louise | Katy Perry: Part of Me | Crazy Rich Asians | Under the Tuscan Sun | Terminator 2 | Moulin Rouge! | How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days | Practical Magic | Schindler’s List | Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Stardust | The Man in the Moon |