The Other - Blu-ray Review

'Compared to The Exorcist and The Omen, The Other does fall into a similar category as those two films: the 'creepy children being creepy' sub-genre that has managed to terrify without much effort for years.'

The Other, directed by To Kill A Mockingbird director Robert Mulligan, arrives next week on a new Blu-ray from Eureka, under their Eureka Classics label, rather than their prominent Masters Of Cinema collection. This rather begs the question: when is a film a 'classic' and when it is something directed by a 'master of cinema'. Is Mulligan not the latter, rather than this slightly obscure 1970s Horror being a 'classic'? Eureka do great work but this slightly arbitrary labelling of films is making the OCD part of my head spin. But I digress.

Mulligan's film concerns itself with two twins in rural Connecticut: Niles and Holland (Chris and Martin Udvarnoky), who initially busy themselves by stealing pickles from a neighbour before graduating to much more serious deeds. Compared in the literature to The Exorcist and The Omen, The Other does fall into a similar category as those two films: the 'creepy children being creepy' sub-genre that has managed to terrify without much effort for years.

And The Other does terrify. Don't be fooled by the BBFC 12 certificate: in the final half hour, at least, this is a creepy and tension-filled Horror, with Mulligan giving you advance warning of what is to come from a long way off, before taking perverse pleasure stretching out the inevitable whilst the audience's toes slowly curl under the rest of their feet. Niles and Holland are creepy, yes, but by the end they have graduated to something more, something sinister and slightly ethereal.

In Roger Ebert's original review of The Other, from 1972, Ebert picks out the fact that Mulligan surrounds his twins with grotesques. There is an overt visit to a carnival freakshow, but the inhabitants of the twin's homestead also count; the odd gardener, the old lady who lives alone, the grieving mother who won't leave her bedroom. If there's a problem with The Other it is that it does little with those creations. Are they meant to symbolise that not everything evil reflects its spirit in its looks: the antithesis of the angelic, deadly twins. If so, or even if something different, Mulligan doesn't make his points clearly.

Perhaps though, that is some part of The Other's appeal. Mulligan's detached style, emphasised by Robert Surtees' woozy photography, leaves you in uncertain waters. Perhaps there are answers, but perhaps, equally, there are only deeply disturbing acts. If it is only a mood piece then the mood is somewhere South of 'good'. It's evocative stuff, as unsettling and uncertain as good Horror should be.




The Other is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Eureka's Eureka Classics label in the UK from Monday 23rd February 2015.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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