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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
    The Others (Rental)
    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    When I was little, it seemed that every time I was babysat there was some sort of creepy haunted house film on telly – or The Blob yet again. Many years on, such tales still hold a special place in my heart. With today’s tendency towards over the top and ickily graphic gory blood-soaked effects, quick-buck shoot’em, cut’em and screen’em mentalities, a penchant for naked breasty bits at any opportunity and popstar-like creepy bad guys, The Others enters the fray as a delightfully traditionally styled spooky flick that relies on good old fashioned suspense and quality writing to get across the finishing line.

    As with the best thrillery, spooky mystery-type films, to give away too much of the plot would be stupid (and would also most likely have my inbox flooded with hate mail – umm, no thanks), so all you get is this...

    ‘Our Nic’ is the rather prim and proper Grace, a woman struggling to raise her two sick children alone in a rather grand manor, under the weight of losing her husband to the (second world) war. Said sick children are the rather precocious Anne (Alakina Mann) and the somewhat less confident Nicholas (James Bentley) – both of whom suffer a rare allergy to daylight, contact with which apparently renders them all scabby, sickly, covered in sores and potentially dead. After her previous domestic help just up and disappeared without notice, she is greeted one morning by a threesome looking for the job – a forthright nanny suffering under the name of Bertha, a mute maid named Lydia and an incredibly old gardener in Edmund. Relieved at finding help to look after her rather large mansion, Grace employs the three – then later realises that the advertisement she had placed for help never actually ran in the newspaper...

    Still, Grace isn’t without her own eccentricities. She has a convoluted system whereby no door may be unlocked before the previously opened one has been secured and an elaborate set of various keys for different parts of the house. Prone to migraines, she prizes silence highly – the house has no telephone, no radio – not even electricity. And needless to say the curtains remain drawn day in and day out.

    All seems as well as can be expected, until Grace starts hearing strange noises. Crying, phantom pianists, sudden knocks and the most classic of freaky-outty things, the clomping footsteps above when she knows nobody is there. Needless to say she is seriously spooked by all this, and those around her start to have concerns about her sanity. Ah, but what of the creepy servile threesome?

    That’s it. No more – you’ll just have to rent this and find out what else happens for yourself. Whilst it does all tend to build slowly, in fact possibly too slowly for some, The Others has a stylishness and a certain classicism redolent of the old fashioned thrillers and perhaps even a hint of Hitchcockian intrigue to it, delivering a sort of creeping dread that gradually leads up to a twisty climax to rival the likes of The Sixth Sense - and quite a few genuine scares as well. And did I mention that there are no naked breasts?

    "There isn’t always an answer for everything...”

      Video
      Audio
      Extras
    Contract

    As you may expect, visually this is a very dark film – something which can spell trouble for many a transfer to DVD. Thankfully, however, The Others’ transition to disc has been handled particularly well, with excellent shadow detail and perfectly black blacks to spare in all its 1.85:1 anamorphic glory. Admittedly the colour palette would hardly have a rainbow breaking out in sweat at the competition, as it consists predominantly of greys and browns of varying shades, however all comes up quite fabulously. Other than some minor aliasing that is virtually unworthy of mention, the one let down in all this is that the predominance of darkness unfortunately shows up the one slight flaw with this transfer – quite an alarming number of white specks. Those which would most likely go virtually unnoticed on most films end up becoming reasonably invasive. It isn’t like the film is infested with them, but there are a surprising number for a transfer of a film of such recent vintage.

    Audio-wise we’re served up a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which does a perfectly good job with all it is asked to. The surrounds are used to support the score to great effect, with some lovely use of all channels for effects as well. Whilst not a huge workout for the subwoofwoof, it is still utilised effectively if not subtly to enhance the whole creepy experience – especially that fabulous old thriller cliché of having a really quiet bit followed by A REALLY LOUD BIT. Dialogue is perfectly synched, and clear and distinct at all times.

    Obviously not one to shy away from a workload, as well as writing and directing The Others, Alejandro Amenábar also provides the film’s score. Whilst you could never claim that it is particularly original in any way, it has a certain familiarity to it that suits the whole experience really well.

    Unlike many Buena Vista rental releases of late, this is as bare bones as they come, featuring a grand total of zero extras. The region 1 release features a bonus disc with a documentary on the light sensitive disease Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a reasonably substantial 22-minute ‘making of’, a couple of short featurettes, a photo gallery and the obligatory trailer. Hopefully when The Others gets a local retail release later in the year these extras will be included.


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  •   And I quote...
    "With a stylishness and a certain classicism redolent of the old fashioned thrillers, The Others rewards the more patient with a twisty climax to rival the likes of The Sixth Sense..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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