The Others (2001) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The latest episode of the Revisited video series looks back at the 2001 horror film The Others, starring Nicole Kidman

The episode of Revisited covering The Others was Written, Edited, and Narrated by Ric Solomon, Produced by Tyler Nichols and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

If you go into any AMC theater in the past year, you’ve been graced with one of the best theater chain openings of all time. I’m sure anyone watching this video knows exactly what I’m referring to. If not, it’s none other than Nicole Kidman welcoming you to the movies. Her onscreen presence has been nothing short of incredible. She has starred in some truly great films such as Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge, Cold Mountain, and this writer’s favorite Practical Magic. But back in 2001, Nicole teamed up with Alejandro Amenabar to make one of the creepiest supernatural horror flicks of all time. It’s a film that was not only a big box office success, but is also a truly spooky film with a twist that M. Night Shyamalan himself would enjoy it! So sit back, cover the curtains and make sure to turn up your volume as we revisit The Others (watch it HERE).

The Others has earned its place as a defining masterpiece in the realm of atmospheric horror cinema. As the years pass, the film’s allure remains undiminished, beckoning audiences to revisit its dimly lit corridors and intricate narrative. It distinguishes itself through its meticulous construction of atmosphere. In an era saturated with jump scares and explicit visuals, Amenábar’s film relies on subtlety and restraint to evoke fear, even though if you turn up your volume loud enough, you will have a good jump scare!

Originally the script was written in Spanish and supposed to be set in southern Chile. Eventually a decision was made to make the film in English. It was very important to Alejando to find an incredibly devout Catholic area to set the film in so the original religious symbolism written in Spanish would translate.

The Others revisited

To jump back in time, 1997 to be exact, Amenabar directed and co-worte a film entitled Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). It was a huge success and in 1998, at the Sundance Film Festival, Tom Cruise optioned it. Cruise loved the script and wanted to work with Alejandro. The movie would later be remade in 2001 by Cameron Crowe and titled Vanilla Sky. While he gave his blessing, Alejandro wasn’t involved in that production. Cruise saw the script for The Others and sought out to produce the film under the condition that it be made for an English speaking audience. Amendabar had never done an English-language production before. With this being his third film, he thought it was a gamble worth taking. Tom Cruise and the producers thought it was a perfect Victorian ghost tale. It was then decided the film would take place in England. Alejandro said this to The Guardian, “ When you shoot a film in English you have a much more open market. And when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got involved, I knew that the destiny of the film was changing.”

During rehearsals, Nicole Kidman originally tried to persuade Alejandro to find another actress for the part. She had just come off the bright and boisterous Moulin Rouge. She was reluctant to do a film that explored dark places and themes. Fortunately the team was able to convince her to return and continue moving forward with the film.

Filming took place in the Summer of 2000. While Amenabar was okay with altering the language of the film and location, he insisted that they film in Span. The house that was used for the shoo was The Palacio de los Hornillos, which is located in Cantabria, Spain. The house was originally designed in 1904 by a London-based architect Ralph Selden Wornum. It was meant to be the country estate of the Duke of Santo Mauro. It’s a great example of Victorian architecture in Spain. Some scenes were filmed in England, including when Grace finds her husband returning from war in a thick fog. This was shot along the Lime Walk at Kent’s Penshurst Place. Other British period pieces have been known to film here too. cinematography, shot by Javier Aguirresarobe, is marked by long takes and deliberate pacing, allowing the tension to build while immersing viewers into otherworldly ambiance. The deliberate use of shadows, the consistent closing of curtains and never knowing what is going to happen next is truly terrifying. If there’s one thing that’s hauntingly beautiful about the film, it’s the score, which is composed by Amenábar himself. He even appears in the film as one of the dead people in the photographs

At the heart of The Others lies a compelling exploration of psychological depth. Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Grace Stewart, a devoutly religious mother caring for her light-sensitive children in post-World War II Jersey, is a tour de force. In case you didn’t know, we’re not talking about New Jersey. Jersey, or Bailiwick of Jersey, is an island country and self-governing British Crown Dependency near the coast of north-west France. Amenabar decided it made sense to set the film during the Second World War and especially those Islands. They were the only British territory that was occupied by Nazis.

As the film unfolds we are given a truly great character study. We slowly peel back the layers of Grace’s psyche as she grapples with isolation, fear, and the mysterious occurrences surrounding her family. Kidman’s performance is both poignant and unnerving, offering a nuanced portrayal that transcends the confines of traditional horror tropes.

To me, only a handful of horror films have ever truly concocted amazing twist endings and this is one of them. The twist ending is wonderfully crafted and reshapes your entire perception about what you’ve just experienced. Without giving it away, think of The Sixth Sense. After realizing what was happening the whole time, your next viewing will feel different and make the film play out completely differently. The twist not only serves as a narrative subversion but also invites contemplation on the nature of storytelling itself, challenging preconceived notions and defying genre expectations.

Religious beliefs are all over this film. It adds layers of complexity to both the characters and the narrative. Grace’s unwavering Catholic faith becomes a central narrative of her character. The film delicately navigates the intersection of faith and fear, prompting viewers to reflect on the role of belief systems in the face of the unknown and enhances the film’s depth.

During the post-production process of the film, around February 2001, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman separated. Their high-profile divorce was finalized just two days before the movie was released in theaters. Their divorce was settled on August 8, 2001. Before the premiere of the film, Amenabar stated that neither Kidman nor Cruise let their private drama affect their support or dedication to the film or its release.

The Others revisited

The Others had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 2, 2001 and was then released in theaters on August 10, 2001 in the United States and September 7, of that same year in Spain. On its opening weekend, it grossed $14 million and landed in fourth place behind American Pie 2, Rush Hour 2 and The Princess Diaries. It would however have longevity, by staying in fourth for another three weeks and would expand to more theaters. Around September the weekend of September 21, it would bump up to second place. The film’s budget cost $17 million and went on to gross $96.5 million in the US and Canada. It would gross $24 million in Spain and became the highest-grossing Spanish film of all time. In other countries, the film would gross $89 million and would end with a worldwide total of $209.9 million! Talk about a huge success!

It had great word of mouth and currently sits at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes with Critics. Nicole Kidman’s involvement added significant star power and drew audiences to theaters. She was a huge box office poise that year for this film as well as Moulin Rouge. Theater goers wanted to see whatever she was putting out that year.

The film was also nominated for several awards including Best Actress for Nicole Kidman at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA’s. She would win Best Actress for the Fangoria Chainsaw Award, as well as multiple Goya Awards including Best Director, Film, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Production Supervision, Original Screenplay and Sound…but not actress surprisingly. This was the first film ever to receive the Best Film Award at the Goyas, Spain’s national film awards, with not a single word of Spanish spoken in it.

The film would release on DVD on May 14, 2002 and come loaded with tons of special features, including An original documentary on the making of the film, Visual effects breakdowns, A look inside the disease portrayed in the film as well as an intimate look at the director Alejandro Amenabar. On September 20, 2011, under the distribution of Lionsgate, a Blu-ray of the film was released with incredible upscaled picture and sound. On October 24, 2023, The Criterion Collection would release both a Blu-ray and 4K Upscaled transfer disc of the film. Not only that, but it came with a bevy of new bonus features including a new commentary, conversation between Amenabar and film critic Pau Gomez, New making of documentary called A Look Back at The Others, deleted scenes, recording the soundtrack, audition footage and so much more! After having purchased it myself, I can say it’s a necessity to own in your collection.

The Others has secured its place in cinematic history over the years and has maintained its popularity by becoming a cult classic. It has influenced subsequent films in the horror genre and even has a remake in the works from Sentient Entertainment and Universal. The film’s impact extends beyond the realm of horror enthusiasts, reaching audiences who appreciate the convergence of atmospheric storytelling, psychological depth, and thematic richness.

Revisiting this film is a journey into the heart of cinematic brilliance, where atmosphere, psychological horrors and narrative creativity converge to create an enduring masterpiece. As the film’s dimly lit corridors continue to drive viewers into a world of mystery and suspense, its thematic complexities and timeless gothic-esque background remind us movie goers why its status as a classic is cemented in the pantheon of atmospheric horror. The Others invites us not only to revisit a bygone era of filmmaking of more shock and suspense instead of gore and jump scares, but also to rediscover the artistry that renders it a long lasting masterpiece in the landscape of good horror cinema.

Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.