Mummy is that you? Grace (Kidman) worries about her kids rather a lot...
SHADOWS MUST-SEE |
dir-scr Alejandro Amenábar
with Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Elaine Cassidy, Eric Sykes, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Gordon Reid, Renee Asherson, Keith Allen, Michelle Fairley, Alexander Vince
release US 10.Aug.01; UK 2.Nov.01
Avoiding virtually all the pitfalls of the genre, gifted Chilean director Amenábar crafts a chillingly uncomplicated ghost story. Grace (Kidman) lives in a big, scary mansion on the island of Jersey in 1945. Her husband (Ecclestone) is missing in action in WWII, and she's stuck caring for her two kids (Mann and Bentley) on her own. A task made more difficult by the fact that they're allergic to the light! So she's glad when a trio of servants (Flanagan, Sykes and Cassidy) turn up on the doorstep looking for work. But something's not right. There are strange noises in the house. And the new house staff are definitely up to something....
Amenábar finds the terror in simple, old fashioned moviemaking, never using any obvious effects. And the result is the first actual spinetingler in years! Several moments induce real chills as Grace hears things going bump in the night--or in the day, since in fact the house is kept dark for the kids' sake and the daylight is danger! Kidman is her typical cool self, but we feel her anguish, nervousness and a paranoid compassion for her children. She holds the film together beautifully, and holds us in rapt attention while the rest of the superb cast add to the creepy goings on. This isn't a big film; its success lies in its simplicity, and Amenábar plays right to our fears and suspicions. There are several moments of dawning comprehension in the story, clever twists and revelations that force us to reinterpret what we see, while ingenious cinematography and editing build a nearly overpowering sense of isolation and foreboding. Lamps warmly glow throughout the house, leaving the corners pitch black, while outside the fog is so thick it feels like a wall around us. Don't watch it alone.
|"This is a haunting and moving twist on the traditional ghost story. Its heart-wrenching look at a mother overcome by grief, loneliness, and sorrow is wonderfully written. Filled with atmosphere and overflowing with tension, this frightening film is wonderfully directed and written, boasting great performannces from everyone." --Julius Banzon, California 21.Mar.02|