Home Video Hovel: The Others, by Rudie Obias
One of the big box office hits of 2001, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others is a love letter to gothic horror with its post-WWII British setting, spooky production design, melodramatic tone, and haunting storytelling that engages audiences with scares, grief, and empathy. The film’s overall look and feel is distinct and memorable, while Amenábar impressed moviegoers with his third film and first English-language film.
Despite its popularity at the time of its release in August 2001 (it may have been an even bigger box office hit, if Dimension Films A.K.A. Miramax, the film’s distributor, actually released it in October instead), it seems that The Others has fallen in lite-obscurity throughout the years.
It also seems that it’s remembered as the ghost movie with a twist ending, which was a popular trope during the late ‘90s and early 2000s. See, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense and later Unbreakable and Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects. In fact, this writer hasn’t watched The Others since it was out in theaters more than 20 years ago and forgot how nuanced and detailed the film actually is.
The Others follows Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), living in a remote country house in Jersey in the United Kingdom just after the end of World War II. Grace keeps their home dark with large curtains because her children are very sensitive to sunlight. When a new family of house and groundskeepers move in, after her old staff mysteriously leave, the house and the people inside of it experience spine-chilling and ghostly occurrences, while Grace starts to see visions of “others” living in her home.
Amenábar clearly wears his influences on his sleeve with direct nods to Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, while the film evokes chills and freights, but also a sadness, regret, and guilt. Amenábar’s approach makes it unique as a horror film dealing with trauma and repression, but from another point-of-view not usually depicted in horror movies.
And just in time for Halloween, with a new home video release from The Criterion Collection (with Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD versions), The Others might find a larger audience that may discover, or revisit to find a new appreciation of the film.
The release itself has new bonus features, namely a conversation with Amenábar and film critic Pau Gómez more than 20 years after its release and an hour-long retrospective from the filmmakers, producers, and stars of The Others. The rest of the bonus materials seems to be ported over from Mirmax’s double-disc DVD home video release from 2002. However, the new supplements, new 4K picture and audio restoration, and essay from literary critic Philip Horne make the Criterion Collection edition worth a watch — especially for spooky season in October.