The Others


Sooner Or Later They Will Find You.


Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 2 Stars

The Others is Alejandro Amenabar's first North American film. The twenty-nine-year-old writer/director was born in Santiago de Chile. Unlike emerging Chilean wines (which fall short of California's best), Amenabar is a talented filmmaker ready to tackle Hollywood.

The Others looks like a foreign film. It's more concerned with atmosphere than special effects. It was filmed in Spain (although the setting is English). The lead actress is Australia's Nicole Kidman. She's terrific in a complicated role that requires her full range. Like all good actresses, she's a chameleon, enveloped in her character, and pointed in the right direction by Amenabar. I agree with Dallas Morning News critic Philip Wuntch that Kidman resembles the elegant Grace Kelly (b. 1929, d. 1982). Is it coincidence that Kidman's character is named "Grace?" Probably. I digress. I'm a sucker for beautiful women on screen.

With all the key elements in place, The Others isn't particularly scary. In fact, the only startling scenes are eerily quiet moments punctuated by sudden, loud, digital cacophony. I was disappointed. The "frightening" moments in The Others are an exercise from page one of the Hollywood horror film manual. The same technique is used in every "slasher" film. It's not the killer with the dorky mask that makes you jump out of your seat. Instead, it's the "false attack" followed by creepy silence, followed by the real attack accompanied with the unexpected speaker exploding in your ear. People who want to be scared (and we're talking about teens) deliberately allow themselves to be lured by this technique.

However, The Others does try to be a psychological, rather than superficial thriller. Also, the film is bolstered by a strong ending. I kept wondering where the story was leading me; and I was pleasantly surprised with the climax.

If you study the credits of The Others, you will probably understand the imbalance of "thinking man's picture" convoluted with "Hollywood tripe." While Amenabar and his cinematographer Javier Aguirresaraboe create a satisfying visual feel, the overall picture is marred by the influx of eight producers. The Others comes across as a movie originally envisioned by South American filmmakers; and marketed by successful, and decidedly Hollywood producers such as Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and Tom Cruise.

I don't have anything against the Weinsteins, or Cruise. Still, I think somewhere along the way, Amenabar's original film got lost.