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The Others
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Nicole Kidman finds Tom cheating
on her with a Sumo wrestler.

What's the story?:

Grace (Nicole Kidman) watches over her two children with a strict Catholic hand, as she waits for her husband, who left for battle in World War II, to return.  In the meantime, freaky incidents start happening . . . incidents that not even the Bible and a whole bunch of Catholic prayers and rituals can explain away. 

So, how is it? (Get to the point, already.)

This movie is a mixed bag from start to finish.  For everything it gives, it seems to take something away.  It's truly a horror film that proves you can't have your screams, and substance, too.  Screenwriter, and director, Alejandro Amenabar works so hard to establish a mood, that he forgets to fill in a few of the glaring plot holes in his script.  For all of the genuine fear Nicole Kidman portrays in her brilliant performance, we're left wondering what she's so damn scared of.  For all of the depth conveyed by the mysterious strangers who come to help with the house, we're left wondering why their story turns out to be so incredibly paper-thin.  

The movie moves as slow as molasses, which, for the most part, isn't a bad thing.  The film allows itself to slow down enough to establish a genuine mood that sets you on edge.  Unfortunately, as with everything in The Others, the payoff doesn't live up to the potential.  In a summer of hyper-spastic MTV films that didn't give you time to blink, you'll definitely appreciate Amenbar's slow-handed directorial style, you'll just wish that it was there for more than the sake of being there, and actually built up to something terrifying, rather than simply being slow-handed.  

The key downfall of the snail crawl pacing of the film, other than the fact that it's sort of boring, is that it gives you plenty of time to contemplate all that's currently being projected onto the screen, with enough time left over for you to have the "surprise" ending figured out long before the film reaches the halfway point.  As a screenwriter Alejandro is no M. Night Shyamalan, or Rod Serling, when it comes to unpredictable twists, even though he tries his very best to pull off a The Sixth Sense/Twilight Zone jaw-dropper of an ending.  Alejandro is a director of mood, more than anything, and his film, and his audience, would have both benefited if he played up to his own special skills, rather than trying to mimic those currently made vogue by Shyamalan.

If you are able to watch The Others and ignore the fact that it's trying to be the next The Sixth Sense, while turning out to be more like a weak episode of Tales from the Crypt, you should have a fairly good time.  It does achieve the drab, eerie feel of a candle-lit classic ghost story, even if, unlike the ghost stories of the past, the feel is without substance, and doesn't have much of a story.  

I will recommend this film, not for its disappointing, rip-off ending, which Amenbar tried so hard to impress everyone with, but for its superb acting performances, its few genuine creepy moments (keep the photo album in mind), and the magnificent atmosphere that literally makes you feel like you're lost in the fog, and trapped in the mansion, surrounded by curtains and gloom, along with the other unfortunate characters in the movie.  I just wish this house of doom and gloom would have actually turned into a house of horrors, before the credits rolled.

Now, for those of you who don't mind spoilers, or have already seen The Others, please click here to find out a big pet-peeve I'm having with today's supernatural thrillers.

What does it make you feel like eating?

This girl in the audience, that literally must have bathed in perfume before attending the screening, sort of took my appetite away with the flowery scent she smothered the theater in.

What are you selling us here???

It's a period piece.  There were no product placements.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Why aren't we scared yet?" - The Others

On a scale of 1-10?

Agree? Disagree? Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

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Text (Copyright) 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].  If you copy this, without my permission, I'll drown you in a vat of perfume and then shit on your corpse.

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