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Friday, October 23, 2020

Review: The Others

Director: Alejandro Amenábar

Screenplay: Alejandro Amenábar

Year: 2001

Near the end of World War II, Grace, along with her two children, await her husband to return from the war in their Victorian family mansion. Because of the children's condition, where solar light affects them, Grace manages the house under strict rules. These rules start being broken when she hires a trio of servants, which brings unexpected consequences at the same time as Grace grows convinced that her house is haunted.

Grace (Nicole Kidman; “The Hours”) wakes up with a deep sob and tearful eyes, clearly afflicted with what seems to be a nightmare. This is the opening scene of "The Others", where some points are clearly established. One of these is Nicole Kidman's great acting, a veteran actress that is used to offering high-quality interpretations, and the feeling that something is not right in that place.

If this is not the first time that you see the movie, you will know the reason Grace awakens that way. If it's your first time watching it, you will have no idea what's going on. An is that the director and screenwriter Alejandro Amenábar (“Tesis”) made "The Others" one of those movies in which you have a completely different experience depending if you have watched it or not. The viewers that watched it without knowing how it ends will be confused, trying to find clues that help clarify the mystery, while if you know how it ends, you will be catching plenty of subtle signs that point to the outcome and that will make you ask yourself how you did not see them earlier.

One of the strengths of "The Others" is the acting. Nicole Kidman is a proven actress, and by the time this movie was made, she was already a renowned actress with several successes, nominations, and awards for her work, but is not only her who stands out in this aspect, and the whole cast does a superb job. Besides Kidman, Fionula Flanagan (“Four Brother”) as Mrs. Mills dazzles with the way in which with subtle body gestures, she can give much information about what is going on, particularly evident if you already know the outcome.

The atmosphere that Amenábar accomplishes is enviable and can only be compared with the genius of his script. The plot development is a bit slow, but the atmosphere, the acting, and the gradual development of the suspense are enough to capture your attention. Amenábar uses a simplistic approach in its development, where during the first two acts, it starts warming up the plot to then offer an explosive third act that is so surprising that it can leave anyone open-mouthed. 

"The Others" is hands down one of the best haunted house movies out there. It's smart but straightforward plot gives way for the cinematography, atmosphere, acting, and the subtleties in its development to cooking the tension to then give us an intense third act and a completely unexpected outcome. "The Others" is an essential movie for those who enjoy haunted house and slow-burn movies with surprising endings.

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