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IN SHORT: A classic ghost story. [Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and frightening moments. ]
Ladies, skip the next paragraph. Don't read it. Don't even look.
Gentlemen, if you spent any time as a kidlet around a campfire telling ghost stories, you will be bored silly by The Others, because you've probably already heard the story told, despite the writing credit at the top of the page. We zoned in on it after about thirty minutes, about the same time as the major league critic sitting to our left zoned out and started snoring. The first act of The Others is every other ghost story you've ever heard, lovingly recreated for the big screen. Nicole Kidman looks fabulous, so enjoy that view because you'll be lugging dates to The Others, because . . .
Ladies, if you are anything like the femme critics at our screening (most of whom we'd guess didn't spend a lot of time around a campfire) you will more than likely be pulled in by the short hairs. We had one critic screaming out loud in our show while most of the others giggled nervously in anticipation of what came next.
Writer/Director Alejandro Amenábar has penned a classic "big, isolated old house" of a ghost story, dated 1945 and set in the Channel Islands, still recovering from German occupation in W.W.II. Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two kidlets, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) are all alone in the big house, waiting for the return of their missing in action dad/husband, Charles (Christopher Eccleston). One night last week, all the servants disappeared in the middle of the night, which has Grace in a bit of a tizzy. Appearing in response to a desperate "help wanted" advertisement in the paper are the elderly Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan) and Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and the young, mute Lydia (Elaine Cassidy). They are hired on the spot. But they know things about this house that Grace will never believe.
Grace runs a very strict, very Catholic household. She will have no talk of anything fantastic; probably refuses to read her kids Grimm's fairy tales and the like. When Anne insists that she can talk to an invisible friend named Victor, who apparently likes to open the curtains and open and close doors when Grace isn't looking, mom goes ballistic. You should know that the kids suffer from an extreme medical condition which, essentially, makes them allergic to sunlight. In the very large house, all the curtains must be drawn shut and all the doors closed at all times. It lends a dark, claustrophobic air to the house, which is perfectly suited to the story being told.
Victor's mischievous actions hold the potential of becoming a lethal prank. Grace, who is paranoid and overprotective enough, starts to go bananas at the thought of ghosts in the house. When she heads into town to find a priest to clean the house, the only thing that stops her is the unexpected return of her husband, Charles, who comes out of the fog that envelops the house.
Charles is in shellshock from the War. He hugs the kids. He goes to bed. He never leaves it, and we're not talking heavy duty sex, folk. We're talking heavy duty depression and fear. Charles tells Grace that he has to go back to the Front. Grace doesn't understand -- the war is over, but ... no, that would be telling
The noises come back. There is a major event that pushes Grace over the edge.
[and oh boy it would work brilliantly if we hadn't heard it all before and you ladies had skipped over the first paragraph, as we told you to. ]
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Others, he would have paid . . .
dateflick level, 'cuz sometimes you have to suffer through when your partner will be enthralled. If you don't have exposure to ghost stories you should like The Others just fine. If you've heard more than your share, buckle down and suffer.
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