A woman named Grace retires with her two children to a mansion on Jersey, towards the end of the Second World War, where she's waiting for her husband to come back from battle. The children have a disease which means they cannot be touched by direct sunlight without being hurt in some way. They will live alone there with oppressive, strange and almost religious rules, until she needs to hire a group of servants for them. Their arrival will accidentally begin to break the rules with unexpected consequences.Written by
It is mentioned that the photo album is a book of the dead, photos taken of those who passed on so they can live on through the photograph. The discussion makes it seem as if this was something done by superstitious people, but that's not necessarily true. During Victorian times, photos were costly and many people could not afford them. This is why photos were taken after the person died as it was, inevitably, the only photo ever taken of that person. They even went so far as to create devices to hold the corpse in an upright position so they could appear to be standing (you can sometimes see the base of them in the photos). Pupils were often painted onto the closed eyes after developing and occasionally a hint of pink was added to the cheeks to make the person appear more "alive". There are many websites devoted to the history of this practice. See more »
Now children, are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin... This story started many thousands of years ago, and it was all over in just 7 days. All that long long time ago, none of the things we can see now, the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the animals and plants, not a single one existed. Only God existed. And so only he could have created them. And he did.
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Before the opening credits or music begin, we hear Grace's voice over a black screen; she says (in the manner of a mother about to tell a bedtime story), "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin." See more »
Theatrical releases included a longer credit sequence with sketches of Nicole Kidman in the attic and the servants, SFX differences, and some lines of dialogue that were deleted from all subsequent home media releases and TV airings (most notably to make certain plot revelations less obvious). See more »
I'll have to admit that I put off watching this movie despite being told by several friends that it was pretty good and worth checking out. That's mostly because "scary" movies usually turn out to be nothing but crap riddled, cheap thrill fests with terrible acting by actors just looking for their next handout...not to mention directors that care nothing about the progress of their careers. That and the slew of B- horror/thriller movies that seemed to come out very close together along with this movie made me a little apprehensive. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
First off, I'd like to say that I have yet to see The Sixth Sense, so I cannot comment on any similarities between the two films that I have heard exist.
Grace (Kidman) and her two young photosensitive (X.P.) children live in a sprawling old house together in England in the 1940's and await the return of their father and husband who went off to fight the Germans in WWII. As a result of the children's very rare and dangerous skin condition, all of the house's curtains must be shut during the day and all of the doors must be closed and locked to prevent any accidental solar exposure to the children. Despite the warnings from her children and new found servants, strange things begin to happen in the house which Grace chooses not to accept or investigate...partly because of her zealous religious beliefs which leave her closed minded and ignorant to things outside her psychological realm of thinking. Sooner or later, she will have to come to terms with what's going on...
Kidman's acting is admirable in this movie, and although I usually have a hard time enjoying her films, I felt she did a very decent job here. I think she was born to play a stubborn, hard nosed, uptight tart, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I especially enjoyed the acting performances from both of the children. Both are talented child actors and were definitely helped by the script which captured what it's like to be a child. I was constantly reminded of my own childhood amongst the belittling and teasing between the two, and of course the naive and adorable fears. The film is shot beautifully and has a lot of atmosphere, partly due to the fact that since the children are photosensitive, the house must always be dark, and the director definitely likes to play with that. There's something else that helps the film's atmosphere as well, the fog, which obviously adds to the general spookiness. But I'll leave that one alone as it plays an important role herein. The score helps as well, and is well placed and executed.
Overall, I found this to be a very respectable and enjoyable film in almost all respects, and I no longer consider Kidman a pretty face begging for nude scenes. I felt it was very well thought out, and if it weren't for a minor plothole involving Grace's husband, I would have ranked it higher.
Easily a solid 8/10.
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