SEPTEMBER 20, 2008
I didn’t know what The Other was when it came (Netflixnesia strikes again!), but since the DVD began with trailers for The Omen (both versions) and The Good Son, I assumed it was a killer kid movie (when HMAD reader Nonymouse recommended it, she pointed out how it's best to not know the plot, but oh well). I am pretty sure my assumption was correct, because the kid in the movie seems to be the killer, but the film never offers us any onscreen violence (even today, I think it would keep its PG rating). One lady dies and I have no idea why, because she seemingly just falls off her chair onto the floor.
Actually, our tyke, Niles, keeps seeing his deceased twin (named Holland) and talking to him, and it’s the twin doing all the bad stuff. But whether it’s actually the kid seeing things, or if the dead twin has taken physical form is never explained. At one point there is a murder when Perry is clearly elsewhere, but his grandmother (a bit odd herself) seems to think the family has the ability to project themselves into birds, so I dunno. Plus, I think the fact that the brother is dead is supposed to be a surprise, but it’s kind of obvious since no one else mentions him and we only see him in scenes when he’s alone with Niles. A much faster paced and scarier version of this “dead sibling uses living sibling to kill” idea was used in the 80s TV movie Don’t Go To Sleep. Definitely check that movie out.
Anyway, another odd thing about the movie is that the twins are played by real life twins (Chris and Martin Udvarnoky) but you never see them both in the same shot. Why bother hiring twins when everything is shot as if there were only one actor? I’m sure there’s some sort of creative reason for this, but it’s still kind of odd. Both actors are pretty good though, as is the rest of the cast. Other than a brief turn by John Ritter (I miss that dude), I don’t recognize a single name in the credits, except for Jerry Goldsmith, whose score here will definitely appeal to fans of his work on Poltergeist.
The last 20 minutes or so make it all worthwhile (it’s a slow burn of a film to be sure; the first hour is dreadfully dull at times). Niles/Holland commits a truly despicable murder, there’s a frantic search for a baby, and the ending is a real downer. And I like that they leave it ambiguous as to whether the ghost was real, or if Niles was schizo. Personally I think he was just a wacko, because I tend to be more Scully than Mulder, but I don’t mind the ambiguity; it leads to IMDbates 36 years later.
Other than the trailer, which gives a bit too much away (don't watch it, even though I took time to copy paste it below!!), the DVD has no extras to speak of, which is a bummer. I think the Udvarnokys could make a terrific commentary track together, as long as they use their outdoor voice. I swear, 90% of their dialogue in the film is whispered. It’s like David Lynch’s Dune, except instead of spice they are all whispering about rings and magic tricks. Oh, and there are no giant worms.
What say you?