Tag Archives: disease

The Others: A Childhood Nightmare

I have a great respect for Spanish directors and their films. J.A. Bayona and The Orphanage, Guillermo del Toro and Pan’s Labryinth, Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza and REC (U.S. version – Quarantine). And now I can say Alejandro Amenabar and The Others. This film has a chilling take on demons/poltergeists/ghosts and the like. Set back in a time period where ghosts would have been an issue (WWII), this movie artfully uses fog as an extension of ghosts and beings that are not of this world. Transported through this fog, we find an ethereal feel and place where ghosts would most likely dwell.

But I was afraid to watch this movie for a long time. Do you wanna know why?

That is exactly why. The last few seconds of that trailer frightened me back when I was 11. And I know I was a young ‘un, but this movie chilled me somehow. I hadn’t seen that many horror movies and I was naive in the horror department in general. That young girl’s voice and ancient figure beneath the veil haunted my dreams for years. And now, I sat down and forced myself to watch it. Conquering fears and writing blogs. I should mark that off my bucket list.

The Others is a story about a secluded English family and their hardships without a father figure during the end of WWII. Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is a strict and God fearing mother who feels it is necessary for her children to strictly follow the word of God. But there’s a problem. Her children cannot be exposed to natural light. (If that’s a real disease… didn’t check.) Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) are

They’re like cute vampires. They can’t see light.

two sick children who have no hopes of seeing the outside world. But the otherworld has come to them. In the form of haunting ghosts.

With a new cleaning and housekeeping staff hired, Grace hopes to make things easier on the children with such a trying lifestyle. Bertha Mills (Fionnulla Flanagan) runs the house with her mute charge, Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), and the elderly garden keeper, Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes). With strange occurrences and Anne constantly seeing a young boy and old woman, Grace fears for her own children and wishes her husband were back and knew what to do.

A desperate mother.

What I found interesting that characterizes this movie is a sense/loss of innocence. The children are quite ignorant and innocent in their knowledge of the outside world, especially during a time of war. Their mother’s faith doesn’t waiver while their own teachings are questioned by themselves at all times. This movie seems to question God at the same time that it affirms ghosts and another plane of existence. The whole movie itself is an early 2000’s examination of religion and whether or not it is a viable means of explanation. It prodded it (to an exhausted point I found to be too overzealous) and wouldn’t leave it alone, even at the end.

Nicole Kidman gives a very mean and zealous performance as the mother in this film, a character who would do anything to protect her children from a heathen and sinful world. She escalates at quite a nice and even pace into hysteria (as I’m sure was intended) and leaves you questioning her merit and faith by the end. I also enjoyed Christopher Eccleston (the crazed military leader in 28 Days Later) and his role as the crestfallen husband returned from war. His haunting performance toned the film in a very depressing way that

Haunts. My. Dreams.

characterized a lot of soldier’s feelings after WWII. He wasn’t in it for much, but it was just enough. And Fionnula Flanagan was a fantastic caring/aloof housekeeper who comes off as creepy and nurturing at the same time.

I know you’re there…

After all was said and done in the film, and a lot was, I was overall impressed with the movie. It was done in a very minimal way with one location and a very haunting house. Old style houses like the one in the film from the early 1900’s (or earlier, I wasn’t sure) give me the creeps. The old pictures, the old furniture and dusty feel always have given me the creeps, just knowing someone had to have died in the house. That’s another thing. I really enjoyed the mention of photographing the dead and how that used to be a common practice in order to capture the soul of the person so they may live on. The overall old feel and simplistic nature of horror in the film came from a very human place. Dying and the afterlife, ghosts and hauntings in old houses in something we all are unsure about. And something we can’t explain. Very well done for a Spanish film with no Spanish spoken. 7.7 out of 10.

Jesus is always over your shoulder.

 

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So the second I saw that this movie was coming out, I became instantly pumped to see it. I thought the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg (and Tim Roth mind you) was fantastic, although it didn’t receive the best of reviews. I thought, “Hey, if they’re willing to take a chance on another one, going back to tell the origins of the rise of the apes, then I gotta see this.” And see this I did. And I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t the fuel-injected adrenaline ride you expect from the trailers, it delivers a more insightful, sensitive side to Caesar and his rise to intelligence.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes all starts with a cure for Alzheimer’s. With the AZ-112 cure, Will Rodman

Oh hey Andy Serkis, didn't realize you were Caesar.

(James Franco) has found, through ape testing, that it does in fact, reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. With this amazing breakthrough, all those affected across the world could be cured of this fatal disease. But in a horrible accident, it appears as if the cure is not yet ready for human testing. But, as its discovered, it is sort of ready for human testing (hard to explain). But one of the apes who was tested with the AZ-112 is in fact, hyper-intelligent. Accelerating through intelligence at an incredible rate, Caesar as he is come to be known lives with Will and learns like an overly strong young boy.

Caesar and the cause of destruction, AZ-113.

Over the years, Caesar comes to resent his entrapment indoors and wishes for a more stimulating environment. But when he acts out, he is punished and taken to a wildlife “reserve” for apes. Horribly mistreated, Caesar uses his intelligence to begin the fall of mankind. I shouldn’t divulge anymore, but its well worth the watch. One thing I gotta say is that the 3-D animated apes in this film are phenomenal. The use of intelligent sign language, the movements and natural positions and actions of the apes implies that the makers of this movie really put in the effort to study apes. This build-up and framework of the apes and their rise to dominance really creates a background for an incredible plot.

And no, this movie isn’t completely unbelievable. At first, the apes’ goal are to find their own home and live there peacefully without abuse. Using their new found intelligence, they do so. But there are adverse effects to the AZ-113 (new Alzheimer’s drug) this time. And this creates a problem that causes the destruction of the humans of this world. So no, to all you out there that may say, we’d destroy those damn, dirty apes. We destroyed ourself.

With a few notable actors, this movie really brings together a good cast to tell a good story. With James Franco as the research scientist in search of a cure for

A touching, powerful film.

his father (John Lithgow), I feel the pain that losing a father could cause in this situation. It pains Franco to see his father in such a situation where he is no longer himself. And so does Caesar. Freida Pinto gives a good supporting performance for James Franco as his fellow ape lover and wife, Caroline Arahna. Tom Felton, as I’m sure most H.P. fans would agree, comes out of left field in this movie as a jerky daddy’s boy who just doesn’t like those not like himself (AKA Apes). I did enjoy his character and am happy to see he’s getting work after the H.P.’s are over. And David Oyelwo gives a good performance as the greedy exec, Steven Jacobs (Sounds like Steven Jobs… JK.)

So, all in all, this film delivered. Even Andy Serkis got in on the action as the voice of Caesar. It’s no wonder that Weta Workshops was the creation force behind the apes. With the fluidity of the story and the focus on the apes, this movie itself even became taken over by the apes. I also found it very interesting that I could identify certain apes in this film with their counterparts in the Planet of the Apes (aka, Tim Roth as Caesar, Korba as Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s ape Krull, and Buck the gorilla as Michael Clarke Duncan in the film as well.) With this connection and the set up for two more films from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, this could be a promising trilogy. 9.2 out of 10.