Saturday, July 30, 2011

Diversion 2.0 Thirty Day Movie Challenge -- Day 13

Day 13 – A Thriller/Horror Movie

I’ve never been much of a fan of horror movies. There are many wussy reasons associated with this (overly sympathetic with victims, dislike for gratuitous movie gore, etc.), but the bottom line is that the appeal of campy slasher flicks completely evades me. Fortunately, I have no trouble with psychological horror pictures, and today’s movie is the kind of scary I prefer: one that effs with my mind instead of my stomach (thrillers accomplish more-or-less the same thing, which is why I lumped them in with horror).

The Others (2001)

Released a few years after The Sixth Sense proved that good, creepy movies can exist in the PG-13 space, The Others is a tale of Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman), a mother of two lives in an old, Miss Havisham-esque manor in the British countryside. Her two children have an uncommon aversion to sunlight, and Grace has a series of complicated rules in place around the house in order to avoid exposing them to sunlight. The house’s servants have since abandoned the joint, but fortunately for Grace, three new ones arrive, unannounced, to take their place. The servants’ arrival coincides with some strange goings-on in the house, though, and it’s up to Grace to discover what is happening in the house, and who these new hired hands are.

In all honesty, I haven’t seen The Others in probably close to a decade; I think my family rented this on Pay-Per-View once upon a time, and that would have been late 2001/early 2002. Nonetheless, the movie has stuck with me, and I will do my best to recreate the reasons why.

One thing I like about The Others is its creepy atmosphere. The Others is, in essence, a haunted house movie, and its production design, sets, and lighting give the sensation that something ominous lives in this big ol’ place. The movie takes its time, too, to build atmosphere and create suspense—I find that I enjoy horror the most when I’m freaking out over what might happen, and The Others finds many opportunities for the viewers to psyche him- or herself out.

There's something about a big, empty house that fills me with a creeping dread. The Others is basically built around this concept.

A few more things. I recall the film being competently acted, but, again, it’s been a while since I’ve actually watched it, and I’m not going to make an in-depth analysis on performances I can’t even remember that well. What I do know is that Nicole Kidman is a talented actress, and reviews at the time said she did well in The Others, and I’m willing to take their word for it. Also, while I’m generally not a fan of the Twist Ending (*coughTheVillagecough*), I enjoyed the direction and turns the movie’s story took, and would just as soon watch it again, even knowing the twist.

This is a good deal of praise heaped onto a movie whose details come to me in bits and pieces, and I should probably hop on this film when it’s released on Blu-ray in September. Still, The Others is one of the few PG-13 horror films that is generally considered worthwhile by horror buffs, and is a fine example of how pacing and tension can be just as creepy and movie gore and Gotcha! moments.

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