The Others

Year: 2001
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Writer: Alejandro Amenabar
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston
The best ghost stories have a huge twist (like the heroes actually turning out to be the ghosts and not knowing it), and it's usually the same one as here, used to great effect as it was in Haunted and The Sixth Sense. In fact, it's become so standard it's hard to make a ghost movie nowadays without the surprise being the same as it is here.

Until that point, Amenabar's dark and brooding film does what it sets out to do; tell a very creepy story very well.

Young war widow Grace lives in a sprawling house in perpetually foggy country. Grace is nervous, snappy, and humourless, her children susceptible to a rare condition of being allergic to light.

Three servants show up offering to work for grace and the children, claiming they've worked there before. Grace accepts, having lost her other servants the week before for no reason in the middle of the night when they simply vanished.

The fact that the children have to be kept in the dark is an effective device for keeping the cavernous Victorian mansion in the dark, often with nothing but a candle and face visible in the frame.

The goings on become stranger and scarier for the three of them, and we're tantalised with glimpses that Mrs Mills, the head of the servant staff, might know more than she lets on.

Genuine creeps are sustained by suspense rather than frights, and together with the cinematography and some haunting as well as beautiful shots, it makes for a fragile, lovely and scary (in the classic sense of the word) movie.

It also marks one of Kidman's best performances, and it seems a few years in quality productions have given her the training she was lacking around the time of Far and Away and Dead Calm.

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