THE OTHERSMOVIE REVIEW
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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
THE OTHERS starts off in all the right ways, right down to the presentations of the credits. This is always a plus because a movie, which relies on as much ambience and atmosphere as this one, has to fight against all that has come before in the first 10 to 15 minutes.
Anyone who has watched a movie in a theater knows what I'm talking about: You have gone to see a gradual build of suspense style movie like THE BONE COLLECTOR, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, or UNBREAKABLE. But before that movie comes on, you are treated to the adrenalized eye-popping mind candy of gun fire, explosions, space battle, monsters leaping at the screen, jiggling barely clad young bodies bouncing everywhere. These are called trailers and they light your mind up into an overexcited flight or fight response. Then add the ubiquitous, Computer Generated Images of the various cola and candy commercials.
Then, after all that sensory overload, we are supposed to switch gears from 5th to Reverse, at 80 miles an hour.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I really hate movie trailers.
Always, and I mean always, I really hate commercials in theaters.
As theaters continue to shove more and more commercials on the screen, build their stadium sized Ultra-Mega Plexes closer and closer to each other, and charge higher and higher prices for everything, I happily welcome their demise.
This is, indeed, what may have happened to me as I tried to sit and enjoy THE OTHERS.
This film is probably the last movie to have, among its co-creators, the now defunct couple of Tom Cruise (Producer) and Nicole Kidman (Actor: DEAD CALM, EYES WIDE SHUT). Though much has been made of this in the press, it means nothing to this movie. The film itself stands on the Direction and Screenplay writing of Alejandro Amenábar (TESIS [Thesis]), and the acting talents of Nicole Kidman in the starring role.
In her role, Nicole is perfect. THE OTHERS opens in the late 1940s, after World War II, with a house (more than a mansion, nearly a freakin' castle!) and the arrival of three people; two women and an elderly man. They have come seeking the position of house staff. Kidman plays the Mistress of the house, Grace, whose rules of conduct and care of the house itself intimidates the new staff. Her rules are for a very specific reason however - her children are extremely photo-sensitive. Bright light can not only hurt them, it can kill them. They can only be seen in the dark by lamp light. The father is gone, presumed dead in The War.
At this point we begin to fear for the housekeepers, but it is soon revealed that they too have their own mysterious ways. As the movie evolves the audience is moved first one way, and then the other, deciding who may be the evil that is haunting this house.
For Grace's daughter, Anna, (Alakina Mann) claims that she sees Others. A Mother and Father and a child named Victor. She doesn't see them often, but she is the only one who can. The rest of the household can only hear them or see the aftermath of their passing.
Anne also sees a very old woman - this one she sees the most, and Anne is afraid of her. Her fears become the fears of her little brother, Nicholas (James Bentley) who isn't sure if the ghosts are real or if his big sister is playing a cruel joke on him.
Director Alejandro is at first, masterful with the gothic locale and the shadows and atmosphere. The hint of faces appear in the background and, shot with so much dark, there is plenty left to the imagination.
The problem comes about when the movie continues in this vein for two hours! The movie doesn't get going until the final 20 minutes and then its fright and scaresville and well done. But this is a story that doesn't take that long to tell. There aren't that many characters, and there is virtually one scene - the interior of the house. Whole shots of people just sitting around, walking around, and staring off into space, eat up too much of this film. And when you see a lot of that, as we saw in HANNIBAL and many other flicks - you know that you are watching filler. You can only watch folks act odd or suspicious for so long before you want to know just what in the hell they are behaving so sinister about.
THE OTHERS is a movie with a wonderful beginning and a wonderful end - but a middle that bloats out and drags on with numbing motion.
One more thing I should mention about THE OTHERS and that's the rating. I've seen far more violence and scary situations in plenty of "G rated" (U.S. Rating System) movies. There is more violence and death in the original KING KONG. Absolutely nothing happens in this movie, not nudity, bad language, violence or gore that would deserve even a "PG rating", let alone a "PG-13".
When this movie makes it to DVD, Alejandro would be wise to re-edit a Director's cut that removes about 15 to 20 minutes of the film. There is 80 minutes of outstanding movie in THE OTHERS. At 101 minutes, there is a middle drag of about 60 minutes to which I can't give more than 2 Shriek Girls.
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