Ghost stories have been a strong staple of entertainment and folklore for centuries. The existence of life after death and the supernatural seem to fascinate and often times frighten people. Spirits that neither end up in heaven or hell linger around on Earth because they have unfinished business to take care of and usually that unfinished business encroaches on the daily activities of the living. Nicole Kidman seems to be stuck in this type of paranormal dilemma in 2001’s horror-thriller The Others now out on Blu-ray.
Set at the end of World War II in a secluded part of the English countryside, The Others follows the Stewart family, a prim and proper group of three that experience supernatural forces at work in their house. The family consists of stern matriarch Grace (Nicole Kidman), daughter Anne (Alakina Mann) and son Nicholas (James Bentley). The two children suffer from a rare disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum which is characterized by photosensitivity and causes a harmful reaction to the skin when exposed to sunlight. Because of their condition, the children must never be exposed to any light brighter than that of a candle flame.
Grace’s husband and the children’s father was last heard fighting in the war but his current whereabouts are sadly unknown so Grace puts an ad out in the paper requesting the services of a housekeeping team. One day, three servants arrive at the front door in response to the ad. They are a nanny named Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), a gardener by the name of Mr. Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and lastly, a mute girl named Lydia (Elaine Cassidy). They are a quiet yet hardworking bunch who make sure Anne and Nicholas are fed, taken care of and most importantly, not exposed to bright light but as the film progresses, strange things start to happen in the house and Grace tries to get to the bottom of the bizarre occurrences which seem to be paranormal.
The Others is a bleak and often spooky tale of a family that is plagued by malevolent spirits. The setting of the house is in a foggy, isolated area of the English countryside. There is no electricity in the house and they seem to be quite far from any heavily populated town. This is the perfect environment for a haunting to take place and sure enough, ghosts eventually do pop up and torment the poor family.
Nicole Kidman gives one the best performances of her career in this film. She is so tightly wound as Grace, a woman who must take care of her sick children as well as the haunted house. The housekeeping team she hires are a peculiar bunch and the presence of ghosts in the house causes her to question her sanity. The actors who play the children, Alakina Mann (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and James Bentley (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) are also quite good in their roles. For such young people, they sure know how to generate strong emotion with their performances.
Many horror films rely on buckets of blood and loud sounds to make you jump. The Othersgoes a different route. The scares here are much more psychological and rely heavily on fear of the unknown rather than in-your-face action. There are many scenes in this film that will get your heart racing and cause you to sweat a little but it’s all in the good name of art. The Othersis a unique ghost story that is expertly crafted and wonderfully executed, a film that accomplishes the very simple task that it was originally made for, to scare.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Others are pretty solid. There are four original documentaries: A Look Inside The Others, Visual Effects Piece, “Xeroderma Pigmentosum”: What Is It? The Story of a Family Dealing with the Disease Portrayed in The Others and An Intimate Look at Director Alejandro Amenabar. There is also a theatrical trailer for the film.