Review Date: August 06, 2001
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Writer: Alejandro Amenabar
Producers: Jose Luis Cuerda, Fernando Bovaira, Sumnin Park
Nicole Kidman as Grace
Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Mills
Christopher Eccleston as Charles
And once again, I find myself saying that this is the kind of movie that needs to be seen twice to be fully valued, but believe me when I say that even the first time around is damn well worth it! In fact, the visuals in this film alone should be reason enough for you to fork over the big bucks. The director seems to have channeled a little Tim Burton here, with dangling trees, fog as thick as the eye can see and a stylish manor, with eeriness at every turn. But as per most successful movies, it is the story behind this film that is its greatest asset. It moves at a slow and methodical pace but it does so with a purpose. There are no special effects here, no pop-up scares, no men with knives chasing girls with huge cans. This film is all about the build-up and therein lies its greatest strength. The shadows, the gaslit lamps all over the house, the sounds from the attic, the silence all around, the darkness of one room versus the light in another...the spookiness everywhere! All the while, these are the little things playing in the film's background, while the story of the ghosts rack your brain up front. The kids are also very good in this movie and don't play your "typical" smart-ass (or just plain smart) brats. And it is because of the solid performances from the entire family, as well as the development of each of the characters, that we believe their stories and care about everyone's plight throughout. The film's score is also used quite brilliantly, adding that certain "something" to the proceedings whenever needed. Boo scares, on the other hand, are not a part of this equation, but chills definitely are. Now I'm not sure if it was the A/C in the theater or the actual disturbing moments from this film, but I had goose bumps on more than one occasion.
I love movies like this because there's a sense of reality behind them, a believability factor with an actual capacity to tap into some of our most unknown fears. The truth about ghosts, the afterworld, haunted houses are notions that none of us could pretend to factually know much about, but movies as such always seem to crack open the greater possibilities in our minds. Kudos to everyone involved in this amazing production for bringing a good ol' classic ghost story back to the big screen, along with a nifty little twist.