October 15, 2007

The Other (Mulligan, 1972)

"Holland, where is the baby?"

Robert Mulligan’s bucolic, sunlit chiller The Other exhibits none of the symptoms of the violent disease plaguing contemporary horror, which is to say it is a subtle, contemplative work as far removed from the “Sturm und Drang” graphic excesses of the genre as is cinematically possible. Adapted by Tom Tryon from his eponymous novel, it is an ambiguous, atypical work in a genre oft-characterized by typicality, one that unearths a horror far more affecting, far more difficult to grasp, and thus far more disturbing than anything that can be achieved with buckets of blood.

In a choice unusual for a horror film, Mulligan and cinematographer Robert Surtees bathe the film in almost constant golden light. Set on a Connecticut farm during summer, the beautiful environs seem to suggest a film with little potential to scare. Yet, one soon realizes that these sun-soaked surroundings serve as a foil for the site of the film’s horror. Mulligan locates his horror in interiors, in the places where light must strain to reach – the barn, the cellar and the well – and ultimately in a place where light cannot go – the mind. For such a bright film, The Other is interminably dark.

Film Rating: A-/A
Scare Factor: B+

View Date: 10/10
Shocktober Horror Film Count: #9

No comments: