|music||:||Schubert - Violin Sonatina No. 2|
Just finished watching "The Others". Go rent it. Get the DVD if you've been thinking about it. It's creepy, but it's not a sensationalist horror flick. It's one of those very little special effects films where the plot carries all the weight. It's a good movie with a great surprise ending.
Nicole Kidman is GREAT in it. My respect points for her plummeted after "Moulin Rouge", but she's gained it all back with "The Others".
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Stewart who is a WWII widow whose husband, Charles, hasn't been heard from since the end of the war. She's raising two children, Anne (10/11) and Nicholas (6/7) who are both photosensitive. The movie begins with three servants, Bertha Mills, Edmund Tuttle and Lydia, applying for employment at their house.
Shortly after, they start hearing voices, extra footsteps that belong to nobody and things that make the house seem haunted. The usual haunted house child-adult interaction stress builds. Grace hears something and rushes to find her daughter, Anne. She asks what happened and Anne tells her about Victor, the "ghost boy". Grace says that's preposterous and Anne ends up getting punished for lying. More of the same keeps happening.
At one point, Grace was so freaked out that she and the servants search the house from top to bottom looking for what it might be that's causing all these weird occurances.
It turns out that the Victor Marlish boy and his family are the living. Grace and her two children are the ghosts haunting the house. At the end, they show the Marlish's and two assistants holding a séance with an old psychic woman in Anne's and Nicholas' bedroom. Every time the psychic woman makes contact, the strange occurances happen.
It sounds like the chronology of events was something like this: Grace gets word from the military that her husband is MIA and is presumed dead. She goes mentally unstable with grief, smothers her two children with pillows and shoots herself with a shotgun - Anne told the Marlish's psychic at the end. She wakes up and finds herself and her children okay, so she thought God had given her a second chance - Grace says this at the end. Grace notices that all her serving staff had disappeared in the morning - because they're still alive and the three of them are dead, so they would have "disappeared" to Grace.
Time seems to warp a bit here. Judging by the fashion styles of Grace and the Marlish's, it's very clear that at least 10 years have passed since the change of ownership of the house, but it sounds like Grace only went a week, at most, without serving staff. She was suspicious of how Mills, Tuttle and Lydia knew about the job openings. Grace had written up an advertisement for new staff and the postman came every Wednesday. But that Wednesday, the postman never came (of course). So her ad never made it to the newspaper. Bertha Mills explained that they used to be servants at that very house before and "never quite left" even when she had to.
So, the Marlish's had just bought the house and felt Grace and the children doing things - the curtains for example. Grace was always opening and closing them when her children were moving around. She always opened and closed doors as she was walking through the house. She closed and locked the piano keyboard in the music room too. All of these things must have freaked out the Marlish's.
The three servants are also ghosts, but they seemed to know they were dead and have an understanding that Grace didn't.
I thought Nicole Kidman did a GREAT job as a grieving widow with no closure on her husband's death, raising two very young special needs children as best she knows how, attending to their physical needs and trying to give them a good upbringing, AND trying to manage a household.
I thought Anne, the daughter, was a little saucier than it made sense for 10 year old girls in the WWII era.
The plot devices were done well. All along, you know something was wrong with the servants and you're shown little tidbits of supernatural activity (almost a little too much in one part in the middle), but it's not strung together until the very end.