Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA/Spain/France/Italy, 2001. Cruise/Wagner Productions, Sogecine, Las Producciones del Escorpión, Dimension Films. Screenplay by Alejandro Amenabar. Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe. Produced by Fernando Bovaira, Jose Luis Cuerda, Sunmin Park. Music by Alejandro Amenabar. Production Design by Benjamin Fernandez. Costume Design by Sonia Grande. Film Editing by Nacho Ruiz Capillas.
Terrific thriller directed by Alejandro Amenabar and produced by Tom Cruise, who took on the project after he bought the rights to Amenabar’s Open Your Eyes and remade it as Vanilla Sky. Nicole Kidman gives a brilliantly subtle performance as a woman waiting for her husband to come home from the Second World War in a large, gloomy manor on the British island of Jersey. Her two children, who are both allergic to natural light to a near-lethal degree, insist they’re hearing things go bump in the night during their long hours of playing by candlelight. Nonsense, says their mother, and off you go before you give me another migraine. Soon come three new servants who may have more than their share of answers as to what’s really going on in the spooky old house. Audiences will definitely compare the “I See Dead People” thematics of this film to The Sixth Sense, and there are many similarities to compare, but this film takes more of its inspiration from British gothic horror movies of yesteryear (most notably Jack Clayton’s 1961 The Innocents, adapted from Henry James’ novel The Turn of The Screw). Fionnula Flanagan matches Kidman’s performance with her presence as the new housekeeper of the manor, and the two youngsters playing Kidman’s children are unbelievably charismatic. Make no mistake, even for those smart enough to guess the outcome before it happens, this is one very scary and marvelously enjoyable movie. Watch it more than once, it magically gets scarier with every viewing!
European Film Award Nomination: Best European Film
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actress-Drama (Nicole Kidman)
Venice Film Festival: In Competition