Directed by Robert Mulligan
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
There are many times in my life when I thank the lord above that I do not have children. Nor do I ever want any. The Creepy bloodline will end with me. But not because I don’t want them messing around with my *ahem* collectibles or daring to touch my electronics. I don’t want them because I have seen enough films involving evil little bastards who kill their friends, family, and even innocent bystanders. With my luck my seed would bring about the Anti-Christ, and you can bet that little prick would be way higher maintenance than I am willing to offer. Screw ’em! We’ve all seen the popular movies in the killer kid genre like The Bad Seed and of course The Omen, but Fox’s 1971 shiver-fest The Other is a film that has languished in obscurity for a long time. The reason for that is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s because the twins in this film go a bit over-the-top in the evil department, and things get a bit uncomfortable along the way.
Based upon the novel of the same name and adapted for the screen by its author, Thomas Tryon, The Other follows the exploits of a pair of twins named Niles and Holland, growing up in the 1930’s. Man, it sure was a different time to be a kid. No video games, no DVD’s, no hip-hop influenced lifestyle which teaches our young that dey gotsta be mad Baller to be accepted. Nope, in place of all that, the children of the Thirties had fishing, reading, and exploration of the great outdoors. But guess what, society? Despite being free of such dastardly influences as Doom or Grand Theft Auto, our terrible twosome still grew up to be fuckin’ nuts!
Niles and Holland were just your ordinary boys until their grandmother (the late great, and very Russian, Uta Hagen) started teaching them to play The Great Game. Turns out Granny and the kids have psychic abilities that allow them to see life through the eyes of others and experience their emotions. Unfortunately for everyone concerned this game causes the way-too-young-to-be-messing-with-this-type-of-shit pair to lose a bit of touch with reality. One becomes evil, and the other spends his life covering up his sibling’s misdeeds. Yep, these newly awakened powers have some truly adverse effects on poor Niles and Holland. Thanks, Granny! Let this serve as yet another instance of meddling adults screwing up their kids. I bet playing Xbox is looking pretty damned good right about now!
Things start off mildly enough with just a bit of childhood mischief here and there. Stuff like breaking jars and mirrors, scaring the neighbors, and stealing trinkets; but before anyone can call Maury Povich, things turn deadly as these out-of-control prepubescent bastards start scoring themselves a body count.
The Other is a hard movie to judge. Truth be told, things simply could not move any slower than the film’s first hour. Yeah, things would happen every so often but not enough to really keep this reviewer’s interest. Until, that is, the beginning of the third act. Once it’s realized exactly what is going on, the hour of plodding build-up begins to pay off in spades. Viewers with short attention spans and gore-hounds may want to look elsewhere for their horror fixes as there is truly not much for them to see here. However, if you can make it through this viewing experience, you will leave The Other feeling a bit disturbed, thoroughly creeped out, and really damned satisfied.
One thing that did not leave me feeling satisfied was the included supplemental material. All we get is a trailer. Be warned though: Do NOT watch this trailer before the film. Movie previews from the Seventies were way longer than the thirty-second clips we get in theatres today. While the trailer for The Other doesn’t really give away any of the flick’s twists and turns, it does indeed provide you with way too much information. Save this puppy for later.
But the question still beckons, “Can a great ending make up for the semi-boredom of the first and second acts?” I was left with the same exact question after seeing the first and — in my opinion — way over-rated Shyamalan snooze-fest The Sixth Sense. I still do not have an answer. I guess it’s best to leave that up to you. Make up your own minds.
3 1/2 out of 5