Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Other (1972)

The Other takes us back to an apparently idyllic world, New England in the 30s. Lots of beautiful countryside, picturesque old buildings, a world in which people helped their neighbours and decency and traditional family values reigned supreme. But of course, as always, decency and traditional family values are simply an illusion, and evil lurks within.

The Perry twins, Niles and Holland, live on the family farm with their mother, their aunt and uncle, and their grandmother. Their grandmother came from Russia, and she has some slightly odd beliefs. She has taught them The Game. The Game is a kind of exercise of the imagination, a way of projecting oneself into the consciousness of other living things. Is it simply imagination though? Or is it something more? And why does the twins’ mother never leave her room? And why does she cry so much? What is the strange secret that binds these twins together?

Evil children movies are always fun, and this is a particularly good example of the breed. Directed by Robert Mulligan, with a screenplay by Thomas Tryon (from his own novel), this 1972 production is a great piece of subtle horror. There are great (and very very creepy) performances by the real-life twins playing the movie twins. There are no shadows or obvious gothic touches in the way the movie is filmed. It’s all bright sunshine, cheerful colours, and as pretty as a picture postcard, and early on you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled onto the set of The Waltons or a Disney movie. This visual style makes the gradual revelation of the horrors beneath the surface even more effective. It doesn’t look gothic, but this movie is gothic on the inside.

While it’s not quite in the absolute top rank of horror movies, it’s still compelling and very entertaining viewing, and well worth a look. The lack of extras on the DVD is a little disappointing, but if you can find it at a reasonable price it’s highly recommended, and it’s definitely worth a rental.

1 comment:

Randall Landers said...

According to IMDB, Thomas Tryon is the star of the excellent "I Married a Monster from Outer Space."