Movie junkie Jessie Robbins picks a fright flick for a Saturday night.
On Thursday night I went and saw THE WITCH, and after watching this week’s Fright Flick, you need to immediately get to a theater and see it for yourself. I won’t get into too much detail about that here (so unsettling), as it is neither the time nor the place (Black Phillip), but I only bring it up to recommend that you in fact double feature THE WITCH, and this week’s similarly atmospheric, unnerving and God-fearing film, THE OTHERS (2001) like I did.
THE OTHERS is one of my favorite films. When it came out, and when I first saw it I was eleven years old, still very much afraid of the things that go bump in the night, and I had already seen my fair share of ghosts. The trailer alone featured a very pivotal scene from this film that left me with nightmares, but I was getting to the age where I started to test my own boundaries when it came to being scared.
The film, directed by Alejandro Amenabar (OPEN YOUR EYES, itself remade as the Tom Cruise vehicle VANILLA SKY), stars Nicole Kidman (who co-produced with then husband Cruise) as a housewife during World War II whos husband has gone away to war and left her to tend to their two small, photosensitive children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), in a large mansion. Three servants come to help with the chores and seemingly with them, a ghostly presence starts to make itself known in the house. Fionnula Flanagan (WAKING NED DEVINE) who I absolutely ADORE, plays main housekeeper Mrs. Mills, a gentle woman who seems to believe Annes claims that ghosts have come to their home.
This could be my favorite role of Kidmans, her emotions are so exposed, her husband away at war (possibly dead), her children very difficult to handle, and with the new servants coming into her home and the threat of either intruders or ghosts has worn her completely thin. Kidmans range of emotions are empathy inducing. For a very brief amount of time, Christopher Eccleston makes an appearance (not as The Doctor *sigh*) and without spoiling it for the slackers who may not have seen this yet, his performance is so haunting and morose. If Kidmans performance is empathy inducing, Ecclestons is heartbreak inducing.
While were on the topic of amazing performances, I would be remiss to not mention the children. While neither of these kids worked on very much after THE OTHERS (a damn shame), Mann and Bentley are little geniuses in their roles. Mann, playing the strong-willed and temperamental older sister to Bentleys Nicholas, is so convincing. Her reactions are so genuine, it was distracting watching again and trying not to marvel at acting and to just let myself enjoy the movie. Likewise, Bentley plays such a sweet and innocent little boy that your heart just breaks every time the camera pans to him.
From the opening credits, illustrated with pen and ink pictures of scenes from the film (I wonder if TRICK R TREAT (2007) picked up some cues for their comic book credits) the score liltingly hints at the sadness and mystery to come, the main track, with wavering flute reminds me of a fairy tale. Im listening to the score while writing this and it fills me with twisted, childish glee.
The children, being photosensitive, must stay away from light brighter than a candle flame for fear of erupting into painful blisters, and this is used to the advantage of the cinematography, the use of light and dark throughout the film is stunning, if not extremely creepy. I found it interesting how certain shots remind me of a Norman Rockwell painting in their clarity and formation, an ideal or picturesque scene in a terrifying landscape.
I could gush about this film all night, and I have a bit of a word count here to worry about, so I will leave it at that (for now ). Needless to say, this film had a great impact on what I watch and enjoy from the horror genre to this day, and for that reason, I am forcing you to watch it for your Saturday date night/pillow fighting slumber party/night in.