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The Others

By Rachel Deahl | Posted

It's not that movies set in a restricted space can't work (films as disparate as The Shining and The Breakfast Club come to mind as proof that they can). But such films can feel merely hemmed-in, and writer/director Alejandro Amenábar's atmospheric creeper The Others, set in a remote English manor house at the close of World War II, suffers from a severe case of claustrophobia. Nicole Kidman stars as Grace, a high-strung and unstable mother who cares for her sick children in the virtually empty mansion. When a trio of locals arrives at her front door unannounced to take on the housework (the help-wanted ad Grace sent to the local paper mysteriously never got there), they are given odd and unwavering rules about how to perform their duties. Turns out her two cherubic children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), have a rare disease that makes them fatally sensitive to light. As such, extreme precaution must be taken to ensure that the blinds are never left open and the doors are always left closed. Though Kidman gives a stunning turn, even her performance can't save Amenábar's flailing ghost story. The director does work his achingly dull tale up to a satisfying Sixth Sense-like trick ending, but the build-up recalls the ghastly House on Haunted Hill in its monotonous pacing and uninspired rendition of things that go "boo."

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