This is a story about an unusual household.
There's the mother named Grace, who dresses like Morticia Adams. There are her two children, who are allergic to light. There's a mute house keeper, who nods only once in awhile, and a gardener and a nanny, who are a cross between ma and pa Kettle and a couple of corpses.
The Others is a strange film about a woman who hears voices in her house while she awaits her husband's return from World War II. The story starts out slow, but once it begins to roll, you may feel finger indentations on your hand from the person sitting next to you.
It is a ghost story, but not an average one. This isn't a film that doles out bad special effects or bodies dripping with chocolate syrup. It's smarter than that.
Set on the fog-covered Isle of Jersey, off the English coast, Grace (Nicole Kidman) lives a life of constant fear. She spends her days closing each door before she opens another one. She goes into hysterics if the curtains aren't closed for the purpose of protecting her daughter Anne (Alakina Mann) and her son Nicholas (James Bentley) from light.
Her actions are understandable, really. Grace is simply a mother who spends her time enthralled with her children because they are the only family she may have left.
There's more, a lot more, but you'll have to find the rest on your own. The unexpected twists of the film are its greatest pleasures.
The Others is carefully crafted by writer-director Alejandro Amenabar. The dense fog and the constant darkness of the house set a macabre mood.
As far as the acting goes, Kidman is strong in her role, a difficult one, because she's the central figure. She must carry the film almost entirely on her shoulders. She does.
Mann and Bentley are also good in their portrayals of the children, while Fionnula Flanagan comes through in grand fashion as the nanny Mrs. Mills. Eric Sykes plays the gardener Mr. Tuttle and Elaine Cassidy is the mute Lydia to round out the stellar cast.
The Others has a slow pace out of the gates, which could very well be its only flaw.
The filmmakers could have taken notes from Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991), a lesser film, but one that takes off from the onset with scares trickled throughout.
Immensely scary, The Others isn't.
But it is pretty darn bizarre, interesting to look at and by the end, it's well worth the cost of admission -- arm indentations and all.
**** The Others is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and frightening moments.