Executive produced by Tom Cruise, 2001’s The Others marked the last collaboration between him and Nicole Kidman prior to their divorce. Set in the British Isles 1945, Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), live in a grand English home. It serves as a kind of fortress as they wait for husband and father Charles (Christopher Eccleston) to return from World War II.
One day, three strangers arrive at her doorway—Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), and Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes)—looking for work. As luck would have it, the coterie of servants has recently vanished under mysterious circumstances. Just as mysteriously, it seems that this trio used to work in the manor many years ago.
The children suffer from a rare genetic condition that leaves them unable to be exposed to sunlight. The house is cloaked in darkness, lit only by candles. The curtains are drawn, and all fifty doors remain locked. Sunlight is unable to seep through, and Grace and the children never go outside. Grace spends much of her time tutoring the children, putting a heavy emphasis on religion. When the children misbehave, Grace reminds them of the dangers and consequences of sinning.
However, Anne and Nicholas are bright children; they’re not afraid to question their mother’s theories. Anne is a spitfire, and often scares her brother. As a result, no one believes her when she claims to have seen a young boy named Victor around the house. When doors are slammed and curtains are thrown open without warning, Anne insists that Victor is behind it all.
Grace begins to question her own sanity when she finally witnesses the disturbances firsthand. She insists that the servants aid in the search for the source of the intrusion, but they find nothing.
Written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Sea Inside), The Others does a good job of mixing intrigue and suspense. While there are a couple of genuinely scary moments, the film concentrates more on building a solid, suspenseful story more than creating momentary scares. A threatening shot of the house covered in darkness and fog appears several times, and effectively illustrates Grace’s dilemma. The children’s light allergy requires near-constant darkness in the house. It also means the children are used to darkness, and their fearless curiosity is disquieting.
Nicole Kidman’s performance is highly effective. She carries off Grace’s icy demeanor very well. However, she makes it clear she’s dealing with a lot of sadness. After all, her husband hasn’t returned home from war and her children suffer from a serious disease. Then-youthful actors Mann and Bentley are also quite good, especially Mann, who gives Anne a healthy dose of sass without becoming irritating.
I won’t spoil the ending for those of you who haven’t seen the film. For me, the conclusion is both shocking and heartbreaking. Heavy on atmosphere and graced with a good story, The Others is an excellent suspense/horror film.
Presented in the 1.85:1, Criterion’s release is sourced from a brand new 4K master that was approved by director Alejandro Amenábar. The result is a brighter, more vivid image. The darker areas are inky and show no instances of crush. Flesh tones are natural and accurate looking. Details are noticeably improved offering clarity even during the darkest of scenes. No flaws are apparent.
The Dolby Atmos track elevates the dynamic intensity in every way. The loud knocks and bumps in the film are dynamic. It might be too much for some, requiring a volume adjustment. Even so, dialogue is clean. Clear and concise throughout. There are no anomalies apparent.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Director Alejandro Amenábar: Recorded in 2022.
- New conversation between Alejandro Amenabar and film critic Pau Gomez
- New making-of program from Studiocanal UK featuring Amenábar, actors Nicole Kidman and Christopher Eccleston, and producer Fernando Bovaira
- Archival programs about the film’s production, soundtrack, and visual effects, featuring interviews and footage recorded on the set
- Audition footage of actors Alakina Mann (Anne) and James Bentley (Nicholas) and photography from the “Book of the Dead”
- Seven deleted scenes
- Official trailer
- An illustrated leaflet featuring an essay by critic Philip Horne
- A remote manor; hushed, candlelit atmosphere; and shivery, supernatural menace
- With his first English-language feature, Chilean Spanish writer-director-composer Alejandro Amenábar resurrected the classic gothic chiller to create a ghost story of uncommon emotional resonance
- Nicole Kidman stars as a World War II–era mother whose imperiousness masks a terrifying pain, as she keeps her light-sensitive children enshrouded in darkness on her country estate
- The arrival of three new servants punctures her insular world—and seems to disturb the balance between the living and the dead
- With each stunning twist and turn, Amenábar immerses us more deeply in a realm haunted not only by spirits but also by guilt, trauma, and repression