The Other is a Creepy Classic
I hadn't seen this film in many years and was a bit worried it might not have the same impact when I saw it on TV as a kid in the early eighties, but this film stands up well today, thanks largely to (Mulligan's) poetic direction, a fantastic and moody score, and excellent performances by all.
(Robert Mulligan) went off the road a bit with this solid, often forgotten Gothic horror/mystery, (based on Thomas Tryon's book of the same name) set on a family farm in Connecticut in the 30’s. The story centers on a set of young twin boys and the accidents that seem to follow in their wake. As I will always mention, the score by the great film composer (Jerry Goldsmith, my second favorite behind John Williams), casts a creepy and foreboding tone with a touch of beauty that is very memorable. It is worth listening to it on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLnBhhAhbCY For some reason, maybe it’s the visit to a carnival with the freaks and all, but this movie made me think of Ray Bradbury’s classic (Something Wicked this Way Comes).
We see That Niles and Holland live an idyllic life with their extended family, playing in the woods and creating mischief wherever they can on the farm, like most 12 years old do. Their loving mother Alexandra (Diana Muldaur) is still in mourning over the accidental death of her husband, after he fell down a ladder in the barn cellar where the boys play. There is a new baby expected soon, and the boy's loving, wise grandmother Ada (Uta Hagen, who is excellent) helps out with the rearing of the boys. Niles seems to have a special relationship with Ada, and often they play (The Game) something Ada has taught him, and he does well. Apparently, playing it, the person can project themselves somewhere else, and see things that others cant. This comes in handy when the boys visit a traveling carnival and they play the game to figure out how the magician disappears from a closed box where he was handcuffed.
It starts to become apparent, that even though the boys are identical in features, they don't share the same personalities, as Niles is a bit warmer and loving, and Holland has quite a mean streak in him. As the tone of the film starts to get a bit more unsettling, and bad things start to happen to people who cross the boys, the layers of what is real;y going on start to peel away. If you haven't seen this movie before, you may still guess early on what is going on, but it is still a riveting moment when Ada confronts one of the boys about the truth.
This story of the two brothers, Holland and Niles, perfectly cast and played by twins (Chris and Martin Udvarnoky) will stay with you a bit afterward, like all good chillers do. Evil often comes in the least likely of packages, and when one of the boys visits an elderly neighbor who is a bit of a pest, his magic trick, you will not soon forget.
This is a gem of old fashioned horror story and the nostalgic feel just adds to the unsettling mood that Mulligan creates. Again, Mulligan nailed it. You should see this movie.
watch the trailer: