Following the success of Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) director Alejandro Amenábar turned his attention towards his English language debut The Others. Inspired by Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, The Othersis a psychological ghost story about Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman), a devote Catholic living alone with her two children in a remote house In Jersey, a British controlled island off the coast of Normandy, France. Her husband is away fighting in World War II, leaving Grace, aided by a trio of newly hired servants, to tend to the needs of her children who suffer from a rare disease that makes them allergic to sunlight.
Following the arrival of the new servants a series of strange events lead Grace to believe that there are others hiding in the house. Grace’s children talk of seeing a young boy named Victor and an old woman and while all evidence points to the supernatural Grace refuses to believe that the intruders are ghosts.
Reviews of The Othersoften feature comparisons to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Like Shyamalan’s film, which was released two years earlier, The Othersfeatures a twist ending that completely changes the nature of the narrative. Still, despite sharing the subgenre of ghost stories, the films couldn’t feel more different in terms of setting and atmosphere. Where The Sixth Sensefeatures a clever script set in a contemporary world Amenábar’s film features a classic gothic motif in its faux Victorian setting. It’s quite easy to forget that The Others, due to the house’s lack of electricity and constant use of oil lamps for lighting, is set during World War II and not somewhere in the late 19th century. This is an interesting stylistic and thematic choice that connects the film with the literature that inspired it. It also helps to give the film a visual flare, captured gorgeously by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (The Road), that separates it from contemporary ghost stories.
Lionsgate’s Blu-ray release contains the same bonus features of the Miramax 2-Disc release (a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, the trailer and a short piece on Xeroderma Pigmentosum) from 2002 minus the superfluous stills gallery. The video quality sees a reasonable boost in clarity and color that trumps not only the DVD release but also the Canadian Blu-ray release from Alliance. Audio has also been upgraded to a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is reference quality.