Somebody, anybody, just please! Let there be light!
On the secluded isle of Jersey in the final days of World War II, a young woman waits for her beloved husband to return from the front. Grace (Nicole Kidman) has been raising her two young children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), alone in a beautiful, cavernous, Victorian mansion, the one place she believes them to be safe. But they are not safe, or at least, not anymore.
I remember being a little tike and seeing all sorts of trailers and ads for this on TV, and being absolutely scared to death by everything I saw, and mainly, I’m talking about that “I am your daughter” scene that had everybody’s interest from day-one. Basically, it was a movie that was bound to scare the shit out of people and that’s why, even as a little guy, I really wanted to see it and possibly wet my Spider-Man undies (I was so cool back then, not much has changed actually). However, after all of these years of searching, looking around, and waiting for the right time to actually sit-down and enjoy this spook-fest for all that it is, I have to say: I’m pretty damn disappointed at the fact that my Spider-Man undies were not soiled at all, not even once. Oh, and I was disappointed that the movie sort of blew.
The film definitely starts off very promising and offers you a different-view and look at what we are usually used to seeing with haunted-house flicks. We get a lot of spooky, atmospheric stuff that makes you feel like you have no idea what’s going on, what’s in the other room, and just what the hell is making all of that noise, and that works exceptionally well here, because director Alejandro Amenábar, definitely seems like the type of guy that’s tired of all of these CGI-fueled, horror-trips. He wants to go back to being old-school where what you did not see, was the scariest thing of all and it continued to work for about, I would say, 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, however, things start to go really, really downhill from there.
Even though it’s apparent Amenábar doesn’t want this movie to be like all of the other haunted-house flicks that it so takes inspiration from, it ends-up being that, albeit, a very dull and boring one. We’ve seen and heard it all before: the floors creaking, the doors mysteriously closing, the spooky children, the weird elders, the lurking darkness, the sound of a piano being played with nobody there, and etc. All of these elements were being used as far as House on Haunted Hill and still, about 40 years later, not much has changed as they are still not scary or freaky, no matter how much of a big-budget you may or may not have. There were so many moments in this flick where I felt like I should have been scared, I should have been freaked-out, and I should have been floored to my seat, but really, I was just bored and as it all came-and-went along, I started to just continue to make more-and-more fun of this movie with my buddy. I get that it’s the type of flick that really scares the shit out of people if you don’t know what to expect next, but I did, and so did my bud, and it just became a bore.
And I hate to say it, but what added insult to injury was the non-stop repetitive motion that this flick seemed to go through. It seemed like every time Kidman’s character was pissed about the shades being opened, she would yell at her house keepers, who would then try to help-out the children, who would continuously bicker and banter with one another about “the ghosts” that they see, and then, get into a loud shouting match, that would ultimately start the whole cycle back-up again. Everybody’s always yelling, everybody’s always fighting, and everybody’s always looking spooky or looking spooked, and it just became tiring and annoying to see that this flick had nothing really cool to throw at us. There were a couple of cool moments where I really felt like Amenábar had a sense of style and detail that he wanted to kick our asses with, but somehow, it just ended-up kicking our asses out of the seats we were in, and into the bathroom as we downed 5 Coca-Cola’s in a row, just to stay-awake for the whole thing, and that was a pretty good choice on our parts, because trust me, the ending is something that you want to stay around for.
Hell, it’s the best part of the whole movie and sure to change your left-over thoughts and opinions about the whole movie. I don’t want to go into anymore detail about this twist and the ending, but it’s very smart, very thought-provoking, and very intelligent with how it constructs itself and the whole flick, in and of itself. However, I still just wish that the rest of the flick was like that and at least tried to keep me wondering and guessing, almost as much as this twist did. Trust me, it’s good enough to make me want to give this thang a positive-rating and that is really, really saying something.
Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to Nicole Kidman cause despite her seeming like she is way-above the material she is given here, she actually brings a lot to the table and makes her character seem more than just an angry, bitch-of-a-mother that can’t seem to keep her kiddies away from the sunlight. Kidman does all that she can with a script that doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her talents, other than have her running-around, yelling, and looking terrified, but you know what? Kidman milks it all for what it is and in-return, made this movie a tad bit more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected after the first 10-minutes of realizing that this chick was not a happy-camper, and sure as hell not one I would want as my mommy. That’s fo damn sho. Although, maybe a girlfriend instead would be nice? Definitely would.
The two that play her kids, Alakina Mann and James Bentley, are fine and aren’t as unbearable to watch as kid actors because they know what to do, how to do it, and still look creepy and innocent at the same time, while doing it. It’s a pretty rare-achievement to see in kiddie-roles, especially the kid actors/actresses themselves. Also, Christopher Eccleston shows up in this flick and as good as that bloke may be in everything else in the world that he has done, he’s pretty lame here and brings nothing to the table other than more agony and boredom for a bunch of stiffs like me and my pal. However, we come very close to seeing Kidman naked in a scene that he’s in, so that at least counts for something, right?
Consensus: An intriguing plot-twist and fine performance from Kidman save The Others from being just another lame, boring, dull, and obvious haunted-house, horror-flick that’s all about what spooks in the night and lurks in the shadow. However, it definitely is, despite trying to hide it with a couple of neat, style-points here and there. Neat, but worthless on lame-o material such as this.
5 / 10 = Rental!!