A Terrific Horror Movie for Tonight

The Others (Amenábar, 2001)

There’s nothing quite as good as a psychological horror thriller. We had only high praise for The Babadook. Now, add to the list of the best The Others (Los Otros). It’s Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar’s first English-language feature and the winner of numerous awards, including the first English-language feature to win Best Film at the Goyas. It won seven additional Goya awards, among them Best Actress for Nicole Kidman.

Here’s what we said about The Others in our review that appeared previously elsewhere.

When death and destruction surround you, you attune every fiber of your body, every cell of your brain to holding on to life even beyond anybody’s ability to preserve it.

In Alejandro Amenábar’s beautifully filmed and gradually paced horror film, we meet Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman, superb in the role) living in a rambling country house located on Jersey (British Crown Dependency, located off the Normandy coast). WWII has just ended and Grace and her two children yearn for the return of husband and father Charles (Christopher Eccleston).

Mysteriously and suddenly, her house staff has disappeared. But fortunately three servants led by Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan, who won a Goya for Best Supporting Actress) appear at her door seeking positions. Grace hires them, then introduces them and us to her children who suffer from a rare photosensitivity disorder. Under no circumstances can sunlight be allowed into the house, otherwise Anna (really well played by Alakina Mann, who won a Goya for Best Performance by a Younger Actor) and Nicolas (James Bentley) will burn to the point of death. Needless to say, affairs get progressively weirder until the truth reveals itself to Grace and to us.

Horror films, for the most part, are schlocky constructions of cheap thrills and gore. Of course, we love them for just that. However, they can be elevated into thoughtful films (case in point, the terrific The Babadook, which taps our deepest fears).

Such is the case with The Others. The issues here revolve around facing your worst behaviors, your personal weaknesses, your need to deny and erase bad deeds, and, ultimately, to reject and reverse your own mortality, as well as that of those you love.

If a mindless scare fest is what you seek, this movie will disappoint you. If, though, you desire suspense, strangeness, and the psychological legerdemain of the human mind, you’ll not do better than with this award-winning film. c/w

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