The Others (2001) (Rental)
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||99:57 (Case: 104)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (66:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Alejandro Amenabar|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Others is the best horror film I've seen in a very long time. This is in part because it is horror created by atmosphere rather than by the more common approach which relies or some nasty person/spirit/demon/vampire/monster/creature or whatever going on a rampage that results in liberal amounts of bright red gore being splashed all over the screen. That's not to say that this method doesn't evoke a sense of horror because certainly it does. But lets face it, to generate a true feeling of dread purely from the atmosphere that's created by a fog-shrouded isolated house occupied by a number of mysterious characters takes a much greater level of skill.
"There is something in this house. Something diabolic. Something which is not at rest."
In The Others we find Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) as the mother of two severely photosensitive children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicolas (James Bentley). This is such a severe problem that exposure to anything stronger than candle light will cause them to break out in blisters and to begin to suffocate, ultimately resulting in their deaths. Consequently, the old isolated mansion in which they live is kept in a state of almost continual darkness. The doors between the rooms are kept locked to avoid the children inadvertently entering a room in which the shutters have not been closed and the drapes drawn.
The story begins with the arrival of 3 servants: Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) at the doorstep seeking employment, which is timely indeed as the previous servants had mysteriously disappeared a few days before, leaving Grace alone in the house with her children. Grace's husband has gone off to the war a year and a half previously and even though the war has now ended there has been no news of him.
"We've all heard stories of the beyond now and then and I think that sometimes the world of the dead gets mixed up with the world of the living."
Before long all the occupants hear strange noises coming from unoccupied rooms, doors open or close by themselves, and Anne reports seeing a boy named Victor (Alexander Vince). Grace initially refuses to believe Anne's stories but upon experiencing some of these strange events comes to believe that there is an intruder in the house. A thorough search by Grace, with the aid of the servants, turns up no one. There is obviously more to this house than is immediately evident, but just what is going on here? If you're intrigued by stories that have a different perspective or just like a chillingly effective horror story then either way this is a movie for you.
Aside from his role as director, Alejandro Amenábar also wrote this story and composed the music and he does a superb job in the first two roles and still manages a workman-like effort in the third. Nicole Kidman really steals the show with her intense performance as the slightly unbalanced mother. Alakina Mann also puts in a very convincing effort as the precocious daughter.
"I've always believed in those things. They're not easy to explain but they do happen.
This is an excellent transfer which is free from any serious defects.
The transfer has been presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This aspect ratio is very close to the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1.
Low level noise is absent from this transfer and I'm happy to report that image is sharp at all times. This is a very dark film which utilises very solid blacks, however this has not resulted in any compromise in the shadow detail. On occasion there is evidence of some edge enhancement but this is very minor and therefore does not significantly detract from what is otherwise a very pleasing image.
In keeping with the nature of the film, the colour palette on display here is very limited and features mostly earthy tones and generally dull colours such as black, grey, brown and green. The rich skin tones provide a striking contrast to the dull backgrounds and consequently look particularly stunning.
This transfer is free of any MPEG artefacts. Film to video artefacts were limited to two or three instances of some very minor aliasing which could be easily overlooked. Film artefacts were limited to a handful of very small white marks and some faint film grain.
Two subtitles streams are provided: English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled 10 minutes of both subtitles and can happily report that they appear to be word perfect. Furthermore, they are displayed in easily legible white text and are well synchronised with the dialogue.
On this RSDL disc the layer change occurs at 66:52 which coincides with the chapter changing from 13 to 14. Unfortunately, it is quite noticeable mainly because the music stops momentarily. Five minutes later, there is a perfect spot for the change during a fade to black which could have been used to effectively disguise the layer change had it been utilised.
This is a very nice audio transfer, which just like the video, is free from any major problems.
There is only a single English audio track provided which is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded.
The dialogue was perfectly intelligible at all times and there were no problems with the audio sync. It was also nice to see British accents used by all the actors, even those who are not native Brits, in keeping with the setting of the story.
There wasn't a lot of music in this film which relied significantly and quite effectively on silence to add to the eerie atmosphere which is a necessity for any good horror film. The music, composed by Alejandro Amenábar, varies from quiet, moody little snippets which are very effective in enhancing the atmosphere to more powerful pieces used to underscore suspenseful moments in the story.
While not in continuous use, the surround channels, as well as the front left and right channels, were used very effectively mainly for the sounds of ghostly voices, banging doors and other haunted house effects and additionally for the musical score.
The subwoofer didn't really play a big part in the sound design of this particular movie, however, it was used when necessary to underscore the louder sound effects and in support of the musical score.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras on this rental disc, not even a trailer.
The 1.78:1 aspect ratio menu is 16x9 enhanced but is completely static and silent.
As this is a rental disc, it's really not fair to compare it to the R1 sell-through version. This comparison is best made in the upcoming review of the R4 sell-through disc.
The Others is an excellent movie which is well constructed and equally well acted and one of Nicole Kidman's best efforts to date. What's more, it's a horror story told from a rather unique perspective which makes it all the more interesting, not to mention thought-provoking.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent.
Extras? What extras?
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300|