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Rated 2.99 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Super Psychological Thriller
by Betty Jo Tucker

After her stunning work in Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman turns in another first-rate performance as a worried mother of two light-sensitive children in The Others. Unlike most films about the supernatural, this psychological thriller creates suspense through character-development and atmosphere, not by relying on creepy special effects. I, for one, appreciated the movieís unusual plot, fine acting, and eerie moodiness. With its spooky house, strange noises, and foggy scenes, The Others reminded me of The Uninvited, one of my favorite films of the forties starring Ray Milland and Gail Russell.

However, I believe The Others may be even more frightening. Whenever children are in danger, my heart goes out to them right away. In this movie, Kidmanís son (James Bentley) and daughter (Alakina Mann) have to be sheltered from light by drawing the curtains in the daytime. They also must be locked in rooms to keep them from being exposed if someone comes in accidentally --- or if they decide to go out on their own.

These two youngsters are pathetic little creatures who depend on their mother for everything, including academic and religious lessons. Setting weird things in motion, the daughter scares her little brother by telling him she sees another boy as well as other people in the house. Viewing this as an act of rebellion, Kidman seems to come unglued. She also starts hearing unexplained noises. At that point, Iím beginning to be afraid too. Very afraid. Kidmanís convincing looks of terror are contagious, especially when sheís uncovering a roomful of white-sheeted objects in a frantic attempt to expose those pesky intruders.

Convinced she canít handle the huge house and her children alone, the mother hires three servants to replace the ones that disappeared mysteriously. Fionnula Flanagan (Waking Ned Devine), leader of the trio, calms everyone down at first, then gets too uppity for Kidman. I found the enigmatic housekeeper played by Flanagan to be the most intriguing character in the movie. This talented Irish actress held me spellbound during all her scenes. She appeared so comforting at times --- but changed her expression to a suspicious frown when no one was looking. I couldnít help fearing what she was up to. 

Writer/director Alejandro Amenabar (Open Your Eyes) successfully exploits all kinds of fear in this chilling film. "My childhood was beset by fears --- fear of the dark, fear of half-open doors, fear of closets, and generally speaking, fear of anything that could conceal someone or something," he recalls. With The Others, Amenabar hoped to make a film "full of long, dark corridors, a tribute to those beings, never unmasked, that stalked the hallways of my boyhood nightmares."

When a movie is this good, I feel sad itís not perfect. The Others needed more clarification of the shell-shocked husbandís war-weary condition. During a visit home from WW II action, Christopher Eccleston (Gone in 60 Seconds) displayed a befuddlement that matched my own. And Kidmanís frequent whispering annoyed me. I couldnít understand what she was saying in too many scenes. Also, the reality-bending ending seemed rather abrupt. But it certainly surprised me and left me as frightened as ever. (Now donít ask. You know I canít even give out a hint.)

Upon arriving home from the movie, I immediately checked under the bed and in all the closets. Whew! No sign of the Others in our house yet --- or so they would like me to believe.

(Released by Dimension Films and rated "PG-13" for thematic elements and frightening moments.)

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