It's gloomy. It's dark and it's intense. What is it? It's the latest Nicole Kidman film -- a ghost story that keeps the audience wondering right up to the end.
The Others is the story about an isolated family living out the last days of WWII in a gloomy old house.
Mother and two children have been left to fend for themselves after the father has gone off to war. Their only contact with the outside world is the servants, and they just `disappeared,' leaving with no notice.
Kidman stars as Grace, the mother of two children who suffer from a rare form of photosensitivity. It's a matter of life and death to the youngsters as exposure to the sun will supposedly cause them to break out in a ferocious rash, and possibly die.
The story starts out with Grace screaming herself awake from some unspoken nightmare, only to wake up to an ongoing nightmare of the daytime. On this particular morning, three servants arrive at the door, Grace assumes, ready to take charge.
Grace shows the trio through the house, instructing them to keep the drapes drawn at all times, and to keep every door locked. When the new housekeeper reassures Grace that she's already familiar with the residence, as she served many years there in the past, Grace is only slightly concerned.
The first half of the film introduces the audience to the routine of this rather dysfunctional family.
Raising from a night's sleep only to be locked inside a tomb-like house, kept literally in the dark, the children long ago learned to adjust to these bizarre circumstances.
Meanwhile something is happening in the house. The daughter Anna, has picked up on some invisible intruders. At first her mother is convinced that these are simple imaginings of the girl -- as a way to frighten her younger brother, until she herself comes face to face with an invisible presence that knocks her off her feet.
The Others isn't a bad film, In fact, for ghost story connoisseurs, it offers a couple of hours of metaphysical sleuthing -- to figure out what's really going on.
For everyone else, the bumps in the night probably won't measure up to the intense spine tingling horrors of some other films. And, the wait through the first half might seem rather long, although the end is fairly satisfying.
I'm not a Kidman fan generally, but I thought she did a pretty convincing job as Grace. James Bentley, who plays the son Nicholas, put in an outstanding performance as a vulnerable, scared little kid.
Although I would personally have liked to see the story take an added step or two into the afterlife -- to resolve the feeling that these people just won't ever get themselves out of this miserable situation -- I thought it was a fun film to go to and certainly worth the price of admission.
**** The Others is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and frightening moments.