Others (2001)
Directed by Alejandro Amenábar

Starring Alakina Mann Christopher Eccleston Fionnula Flanagan James Bentley Nicole Kidman

Spain's Alejandro Amenábar evolved into a "name" director in Hollywood after his reality-bending sci-fi-ish thriller "Open Your Eyes" became so hot that Tom Cruise decided to star in its remake, "Vanilla Sky." While he was busy at work on that Amenábar -related project, with new main squeeze Penelope Cruz, his soon-to-be-ex-wife Nicole Kidman was off working with Amenábar himself, on the Dimension Films-produced "The Others."

"The Others" borrows quite liberally from classic American gothic thrillers, most notably "The Innocents," but like most modern movies it really cranks up the volume. Kidman plays Grace, a gorgeous woman who retires to a British mansion with her two children, unsure whether or not her husband is going to return from duty in the second World War.

Conveniently for the purposes of making a horror film, her two children have a rare disease that makes them susceptible to light. They must constantly be kept in the dark. In fact, the mansion doesn't even have electricity since the family has no real need for it.

After her original crew of servants mysteriously disappear, Grace hires three new servants to replace them. Things start going dreadfully wrong from there. Her sadistic daughter, Alakina Mann, torments young brother James Bentley with stories of another child she claims to have seen in the house. Eventually enough strange goings-on take place in the perpetually dark mansion to make Grace wonder whether the house is indeed haunted. She gets her final answer when she attempts to escape the home and get in touch with the local priest, only to discover a ghost-like fog won't let her get off the premises.

Although not nearly as good as Amenebar's landmark first film "Thesis" (a classic horror film that every fear fan should see), "The Others" does deliver some genuine chills, particularly during a night-time scene when the two children dare to make an excursion out into their front yard. Mann is particularly memorable as the daughter who is at odds with her mother's Christian faith.

While fans of "The Innocents" will clearly see a lot of similarities between this film in that, "The Others"s story is more in line with what modern audiences expect from thrillers, delivering a faster pace and a nice twist ending that doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense but is nonetheless effective. Good word of mouth kept the movie in the Top 5 of the box office during the waning months of the summer of 2001.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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