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This year is The Others’ 23rd anniversary, and The Frida Cinema commemorated it with screenings of a new 4K restoration. The film was originally released on August 10, 2001, and was directed and written by Chilean-Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar. His psychological horror was a box-office hit and grossed over $209.9 million internationally. The Others was also the first ever English film to win The Best Film Award at the Goyas, Spain’s national film awards, despite the film being a non-Spanish language film. It was also nominated for various Saturn Awards and Golden Globe Awards, along with nominations from many other film institutions.
I arrived early, and I was anticipating watching The Others for the first time. I was also excited to see Nicole Kidman shine in this movie because I’m a huge fan of her performance in the 2001 musical Moulin Rouge. The Others is a film that I was not familiar with. However, viewing the trailer before seeing the film piqued my interest. The trailer had me invested in the storyline and what was to come of it. Moviegoers came in little by little during trailers before the film began.
The story takes place in 1945, in Jersey in the Channel Islands, where an Englishwoman named Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) resides with her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley). The trio live alone in a large manor during the Second World War and await the return of Grace’s military husband, Charles Stewart (Christopher Eccleston). Grace keeps the curtains closed since her children are sensitive to light and experience painful boils when exposed to the sun. She also keeps each door locked as her children are learning their lessons in the dark.
Three of the manor’s former housekeepers come to Grace’s doorstep for employment. Anne confides in her family and the staff that she is often visited by a boy named Victor along with other people. Grace believes that Anne is making up stories in order to scare Nicholas and becomes frustrated with her. Grace also hears the same noises that Anne hears but, due to her strict belief in Catholicism, refuses to come to terms with the possibility of the house being haunted.
Grace eventually reaches her wit’s end with the constant upstairs noise when there is no one present and often blames the staff for both the noise and someone leaving the doors unlocked. She also has terrible migraines and cannot handle loud noises. The staff claim that all of the occurrences are not their fault, which then leads to Grace demanding the staff to inspect the house. She believes that there are intruders in her home and begins to experience paranormal activity. The children believe that their mother has gone mad.
I do not want to mention the rest of the plot, but this film is definitely an interesting rabbit hole to delve into. What I appreciated about the movie was that it did not depend on gore or a lot of CGI to make the suspense great. The jump scares and buildup of the plot were well thought out. The scares were subtle but effective and were not overdone with violence. The pacing of the film was also incredibly calculated, leading you to wonder how the story will unfold.
This film really changed my perspective on the paranormal, and it also flipped the premise of a ghost story. It was definitely mind-bending and made me question the reality within the home. I questioned whether Kidman’s character was truly mad or if everything she was truly experiencing was due to the paranormal. I also questioned if some of the characters in the film were figments of Grace’s imagination.
Watching this movie is like putting together a mental puzzle of what you think may happen and allows your mind to put the pieces of the plot together. The Others makes the audience question what is real and what is not. This movie reminded me of the Netflix Gothic horror The Haunting of Bly Manor, especially given that ghosts are not just paranormal beings but they can also be in the form of secrets or truths that may haunt us.