Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Psychobabble's 150 Essential Horror Movies: Addition 24

Every day this October, I'll be adding a film to Psychobabble's 120 Essential Horror Movies to bring the list up to 150. Today’s addition is:

130. The Others (2001- dir. Alejandro Amenábar)

The mass of horror films that populated the genre’s 2000s revival sought to recapture the visceral thrills of Dawn of the Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Others is just as referential as 28 Days Later or Saw, but its source would not be sucked quite so dry throughout the decade. Alejandro Amenábar’s ghost story stirs the cerebral chills of The Innocents, and the parallels are not quite as subtle as the product. We have Nicole Kidman channeling Deborah Kerr’s unease as the mother of a precocious girl (Alakina Mann) and her weird little brother (James Bentley). With the arrival of an outsider (Fionnula Flanagan) comes a rush of terrible secrets revealed in an old dark house setting. A more recent influence must have been The Sixth Sense, as The Others builds to a twist delivered with the punch of “The Twilight Zone” instead of the ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw. Yet like Henry James’s novel and Jack Clayton’s film, concealing secrets is such a motivator throughout the entire film that the climactic twist never feels gimmicky. Amenábar keeps everyone half hidden in inky chiaroscuro. Kidman’s Grace Stewart spends the film locking doors and shutting curtains, lest a ray of sunlight fall on her wan children. She instructs the new housekeeper that her “children sometimes have strange ideas, but you mustn’t pay any attention,” which is as much a comment on the ghosts the children believe haunt their house as the themes of child abuse that are far more unsettling.  

See this piece in context as part of Psychobabble’s Essential Horror Movies of the 2000s here.
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