” The Others” Succeeds Where Some Psychological Thrillers Fall Short

When I finally got around to watching M. Night Shamalayan’s “The Sixth Sense” on video last year, I was disappointed.

I was not disappointed, however, because the story wasn’t wonderfully constructed or because the acting of stars Bruce Willis and Haley-Joel Osment were below par. On the contrary, the film had some of the best scripting and direction that I had seen in years, and I will stand behind Willis and Osment as two of the best and most convincing actors working in the business today.

My sticking point with “The Sixth Sense” had more to do with the fact that at about 30 minutes into the movie I figured out the so-called surprise ending (the details of which I won’t mention here, in case there are still some who haven’t bought the hype and seen the movie yet).

I am more than sure that my experience with Shamalayan’s denouement-powered supernatural thriller was what led me to sit in a darkened theatre in Asheville last week racking my mind to try to figure out the conclusion to the latest thinking man’s horror movie, “The Others.”

The difference between “The Sixth Sense” and “The Others,” however, is that no matter how much of the latter’s ending I could figure out, there were still at least five other loose ends that I hadn’t even anticipated.

The film takes place in a darkened house in World-War II era England, where Grace (Nicole Kidman) must keep all doors locked and curtains shut because her photosensitive children Nicholas (James Bentley) and Anne (Alakina Mann) have a potentially fatal allergy to any light brighter than that of a candle.

So, the scene and the mood of the movie are set with curtains drawn and candles flickering, just in time for three new, and extremely creepy, servants to come knocking. Once Anne starts talking about a mysterious and possibly ghostly family of three and an old witch that she’s seen roaming around inside of the house, the movie has drawn you in so far that even in long periods of little action, usual feelings of boredom are replaced by impatience. The viewer finds himself on the edge of his seat, wondering what is going to happen to the family of three, and when, if at all, those ghosts are going to show up.

Much of the credit for the success of the film should go to Alejandro Amenabar, who directed and wrote the screenplay for this, his first English-speaking film. However, the film would not have been half as good without the superb acting of everyone in the cast. Very few times during the movie does one find sense of disbelief slipping because of poor dialogue or realization that the lead actress also starred in the film “Days of Thunder.”

“The Others” is, surprisingly enough, put out by Dimension Films, the same folks who brought the Scream and Scary Movie franchises to the big screen. Rest assured, though, that this film rises above.