Haunted house movies are a staple of horror, and of Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012!
Written By: Alejandro Amenábar
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar
I have a feeling that a lot of people get hung up by the twist in The Others. The twist is a large one, I’ll give people that much, but it is in retrospect a very small matter in regards to what makes the film work. The integral working parts of The Others are the performances, the opulent set design, and the steady hand behind the camera. Those three elements are what make The Others such a strong slow build horror film, not the twist. Don’t misread my words, the twist is very well done and extremely effective. But, it is a twist that only pays off because of what comes before, and what comes before is a bravura example of how to make a kettle cooker of a horror film.
The acting is where I shall begin, and that means discussing Nicole Kidman. I once was in the habit of always starting out any discussion of Miss Kidman by saying that I wasn’t a big fan of her work, “but.” I’ve ended that phrase with but so many times now that it is dishonest to keep using that phrase. The Others is yet another example of the quiet and reserved style that suits Miss Kidman so well. She is overbearing and smothering in The Others, but she is also petrified of losing her mind. Her fears drive her, and it is those fears that allowed me to connect with her character through such a perilous journey. The rest of the cast is superb, if a bit underused, but it is Miss Kidman who shines the most.
The set design is the next point of attack, and they assault the viewer in their plain opulence. The house is ornate, but it is empty and it lacks the light necessary for the set designs to be as blustery as they would be otherwise. The constant darkness of the house adds the most to the horror aspect of The Others. There is the sense that something is always waiting around the next corner or slinking back into the shadows. The house in The Others is very much its own entity, having a suspense and a character all its own.
The direction of Alejandro Amenábar is strong in The Others. He does something very important with The Others in that he allows the story to unfold at a slow pace. The story builds to moments of heightened tension and suspense, and it does so because Senor Amenábar takes a laid back approach to unfolding the events of The Others. Nothing happens fast in the film, but nothing should happen fast. The slow pace of the film is probably The Others greatest strength, and the reason why the twist and ultimate finale is startling and unsettling at the same time.
The Others is very much an old fashioned horror film. There’s not a drop of blood to be seen in the film, nor any sort of camera trickery. Most of all The Others is a film willing to rely on its actors and its story to be effective. And effective the story is, very effective in its ability to build suspense and create tension filled moments. The twist is a great one, but the twist works because of the quality craftsmanship that leads up to said twist. The Others isn’t just a film with a twist, it’s a great slow build horror film that just so happens to have a well constructed twist.