I remember when The Others came out. I didn’t see it in theaters, but instead opted to wait for DVD. There wasn’t much “hype” if you will, but I recall many people comparing it to The Sixth Sense…a non Shyamalan movie, with an extreme Shyamalan twist. I happen to enjoy M. Night and Nicole Kidman and was happy to give this film a whirl.
I hopped on board in the beginning. It was post World War II England, dark and dank…as England is. And here we have this mansion in the country, fog surrounding it like a mote. Not ominous at all. But, what of its inhabitants?
There’s Grace Stewart, the Lady of the house. Mother to Anne and Nicholas and widow (supposedly) to Charles, after he never returned from the war. She’s quite proper and Catholic. Stern and overbearing, especially for her children. And let’s be clear, they aren’t your typical children. They don’t play much or have silly conversations. They aren’t allowed outside the house. It’s all for their protection though as they both suffer from photosensitivity. In Layman’s terms, allergy to the sun.
Three servants, Mrs. Mills, Mr. Tuttle and Lydia (a mute) are hired in the first few minutes of the movie. They seem put off by Grace’s “ways,” but are servants nonetheless. They all come as a unit which I thought was interesting in an odd way. Still, they seem amiable and do their jobs, locking doors and drawing curtains closed.
Anne, the know-it-all, big sister and obstinate daughter begins to see a boy that she swears is real. It wouldn’t be all that shocking for Ann to have 10 imaginary friends if you ask me, but she only speaks of Victor. Soon she adds a man, woman and old lady to the mix. Her personality is questionable. She likes to tell her brother stories, some true, some not so true. She holds resentment towards her mother, who punishes her for her lies. I wondered for a time if Anne was telling lies.
If Anne is the know-it-all, Thomas is the impressionable kind. A “momma’s boy,” Thomas doesn’t like to be alone. He doesn’t like to be scared. His personality is abiding. He may ask a question, but once he receives the answer, he won’t ask it again. He doesn’t inquire much as long as he’s not alone. His sister’s stories frighten him and it isn’t long before Grace becomes frightened as well.
Charles, her husband miraculously returns home and the four feel at peace. Happy for his safe return, but tormented still by “intruders”. Grace begins to hear and see things and it culminates when she goes to check on Anne, but sees the “old lady” the Anne has been seeing. Grace attacks her, but quickly finds that she attacked her daughter and not the old lady. Anne retreats to her father and Charles speaks with Grace about the incident. It’s not the first time she’s attacked the children. Details are spared, of course.
Charles goes back to the war. What war, you ask? I don’t know. But, he leaves and Grace is left to protect her children and home from intruders she cannot always see. She awakes one morning to find all the curtains gone, leaving her children vulnerable to the light. Mrs. Mills and the others swear they have no clue where they have disappeared to. They refuse to help Grace look and it’s then that Grace knows they have something to do with what’s been happening. She banishes them from the house.
And so it goes…we learn that the three servants are actually dead! A gravestone slowly uncovered by Mr. Tuttle confirmed that. And the intruders? Victor, the man and woman, and old lady? Not ghosts, no sir! In fact, it’s Grace, Anne and Thomas who are the ghosts! WHAAAATTTT? Twist!
The ending was surprising and I do LOVE when I get to see a story through the eyes of the ghost. There’s plenty of theories about ghosts, residual hauntings, that say these souls aren’t aware they are dead. But, the interesting thought behind this film is the fact that these souls figure it out. They all know they are dead and they stay in the house! They stay? They don’t want to go to heaven or wherever they should go? Grace, being as religious as she was, should have “moved on….”
And so, they inhabit the house knowing that more will come and they will have to do what’s necessary to protect their house, their place of eternal rest.