If you’ve been following my articles on “The Walking Dead,” 31 Days of Horror or Apocalypse November, you may have guessed that I love movies and books about the supernatural and horror. While some families pass on inherited abilities like playing an instrument, creating art, curing diseases, my family can tell when there are ghosts nearby. This is why I go on ghost hunting trips and why I’m not afraid of cemeteries. It isn’t the dead that scare me; it’s the mad man with his finger on the button, who can blow us all to smithereens. But no matter how we die, we’ll all eventually be ghosts. I’ll have some cinematic ghosts after the jump, specifically, The Others, and how it fits in with real world parapsychology.
Speaking of ghosts, the movie The Others, which premiered in 2001 and starred Nicole Kidman, is a perfect example of why hauntings occur. The film, based partly on Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw, was directed and written by Alejandro Amenabar and produced by Fernando Bovaira, Jose Luis Cuerda, Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. It won eight Goyas (Spain’s national film awards), including Best Film and Best Director. It also won six Saturn Awards, three Best Horror Film, and Best Actress for Kidman who was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for Amenabar’s Best Original Screenplay.
We find ourselves in a remote country house sometime after World War II, where a young mother, Grace (Nicole Kidman) tells the three new servants Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), the gardener Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and the mute girl, Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), that the children, Anne and Nicholas, must never be exposed to sunlight as they suffer from a rare disease; they are photosensitive to UV waves and could die from prolonged exposure. Grace, a troubled and fragile woman was left with the tremendous job of protecting her sick children. Her husband never returned from the war and there are strange things going on in the house.
Anne (Alakina Mann), the eldest child can see the strangers and tells her mother, “They’re everywhere and say this house is theirs.” The girl goes as far as showing her mother a drawing of the unseen visitors, which includes a father, mother, the boy known as Victor and the old lady. Nicholas (James Bentley), the younger child, has also seen the boy Victor (Alexander Vince) and is very frightened of the visitors.
Children and pets will sense a presence in the house way before adults are able to. Why? From my experience, it’s because children are not overloaded with outside concerns like work, health issues, paying the bills on time, and therefore are more observant of the world around them. I was very young when I had my first experience with a family member who had passed away. The only one who believed me was my grandmother who had the “Gift.”
The dark and foreboding home, in which Grace and her children reside, is the focal point where the intruders feel comfortable enough to move freely about. The whisperings, doors closing on their own, the children’s interactions with the boy known as Victor, convinces Grace that the house is haunted and she goes to fetch a priest. Why a priest?
Houses are sometimes haunted by spirits who are attached to some item in the house and if you get rid of the item, the hauntings usually end. If someone died an unexpected death, like suicide or murder, the spirit of that person will sometimes cling to what is familiar, like their home. Most ghosts are not harmful and only make their presence know occasionally. But if it’s an angry ghost or worse, demon, then people will usually get a priest to come in and bless the house.
The Book of the Dead
In one part of the movie, Grace finds a book with pictures of recently dead people, a practice that was common in the 19th century. People believed that taking pictures of their deceased loved ones would protect the souls of the departed. I saw a post mortem picture of my grandfather a long time ago and it left me with a bad feeling.
Grace interacts with the old woman, who is a medium, during a séance with Victor and his family. This scene is the catalyst where Grace realizes that she and the children are the intruders, the ghosts. Grace had smothered the children in their sleep and then used a shotgun on herself. The owners of the house, unable to rid the house of ghosts, take their son Victor and leave for good. Grace and the children watch them from the window.
The Others is a film that needs to be seen and savored for its truthful portrayal of a haunting from a ghost’s point of view. There are times when a soul doesn’t know that it has passed from the world of the living or maybe they come back to let us know that they’re okay or to give a warning, but for whatever reason, the curtains that separate our world from the afterlife are thin and sometimes we see them…sometimes… they can see us.