Release Date: 10 August 2001
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston
Running Time: 1hr 44min
Grace Stewart is a strictly religious mother of two children (Anne and Nicholas), living in a large and remote country house in Jersey just after World War II. Her husband is missing after fighting in the war, and her children both have a strange disease similar to photosensitivity. One day three servants arrive at the house offering their services to Grace and the children, and this coincides with a number of weird occurrences and strange goings on.
The children argue about their mother going mad, and Grace punishes the children when they step out of line. The house has no electricity, and the characters must find their way around through the use of lanterns. The family starts experiencing strange things, such as Grace hearing a baby crying, and her kids tell her it’s a boy named Victor who claims the house is his.
More odd events happen, and there are noises in the house which Grace thinks are the servants. Anne again informs her there are other people in the house, and presents her mother with a picture she has drawn of four people she claims to have seen in the house – a man, a woman, Victor, and an old woman. One night Grace hears the piano and enters a room, shutting and locking the pIano lid, but it is opened again almost instantly. Grace decides that the home must be haunted and there are allusions that the servants know more about what’s going on.
Charles, Grace’s husband, returns for a few days, but he seems distant and disconnected. The morning he leaves, Grace finds all the curtains removed from the house. That night Nicholas and Anne sneak out and find gravestones in the garden – the servants’ gravestones. The children flee into the house and upstairs. Grace follows and encounters the people from Anne’s drawing – the old woman is commencing a seance. It is revealed that Grace and her children are in fact dead (she smothered them in a psychotic state before killing herself) – and it is in fact they who have been haunting the living Victor and his family.
The film ends as Grace hugs her children tightly saying ‘No one will make us leave this house.’ Outside Victor’s family leave following the unsuccessful seance, as Grace and the kids watch them drive away.
The Others is a clever, atmospheric, and wonderfully acted horror-thriller. It’s one of those movies that does what it does with minimal fuss. There is a lack of gore and blood here, there are no overt jump scares, but the film works on so many levels. The plot device of having the children allergic to light is genius as it allows for some really atmospheric lighting.
The eeriness of the plot as it unfolds also works brilliantly against the backdrop of the large, secluded house. Nicole Kidman puts in an excellent turn as always and really portrays Grace well as a woman on the edge, a normal person in a disturbing situation. As events unfold, we, the audience, only discover things when the characters do, and this increases the shock and awe aspect.
The dreamlike creepiness of The Others is a big part of what adds to the suspense and intrigue. We get the feeling all this is building to something, and when we find out what, it’s so satisfying. There are some genuine scares, such as a meeting with the old lady, and some of the creepy noises. And the uncharacteristically dark twist ending ranks as one of modern horror’s finest moments.