Actor-turned-author Tom Tryon lends a strong hand (both producing and script writing) in bringing his best seller The Other to the screen in Robert Mulligan’s masterful 1972 exercise in psychological horror. Like Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, another utterly faithful film version of a best selling novel, the shocks are momentarily visceral, but the atmosphere of evil all around the central characters is what keeps tension fraught to a fever pitch as the viewer is offered droplets of information at regular intervals until the truth is utterly and inevitably revealed.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/08/2013
Identical twins Niles (Chris Udvarnoky) and Holland (Martin Udvarnoky) Perry are having a rambunctious summer of 1935. Their older sister is expecting a baby which has all of the family excited, and their mother (Diana Muldaur) is starting to come out of a deep depression she had suffered some months earlier. Niles and Holland are like opposite sides of a coin: Niles is the thoughtful, deeply emotional twin while Holland is the mischievous, surly one. When a series of lethal and near-lethal accidents begin happening in this rural neighborhood, there is a great uproar in the family, especially since grandmother Ada (Uta Hagen) feels she can get to the root of the truth by first forcing Niles to participate in a trance-based empathy game and then once she gets the answers she needs, forbidding him to engage in the game any longer.
The Production Rating: 4/5
While the story’s central twist is a good one, it’s more successfully carried out in the Tom Tryon book where certain visual clues can be more successfully camouflaged than they can in the realistic world of the movies. As he did in To Kill a Mockingbird, director Robert Mulligan focuses more strongly on individuals and lets the story unfold rather matter-of-factly. And the director is so smart to show us images without putting a blaring spotlight on them which will have great significance much later in the film (the carnival sequence is one of those scenes that has a much bigger payoff later than at the time of first viewing, and we watch Niles participate in “The Game” in purely visual terms in an exhilarating sequence with a frightening conclusion.) The shock moments are certainly chilling without being gore-infused monstrosities, but the psychological implications of what has gone on before the big reveal (about two-thirds of the way through the film) carry even greater effect in the film’s last third even though the action slows down considerably. The final images have a chill all their own which will bring to a cinemagoer’s mind not only Rosemary’s Baby from a few years past but also The Omen which will be coming in a couple of years.
Chris Udvarnoky who has the larger role of Niles is creepily effective even if he occasionally swallows his dialogue in whispers or muted emotional outbursts. Brother Martin Udvarnoky playing twin Holland has very believable rapport with his real-life brother, and their scenes together are sometimes quite disturbing. Uta Hagen with a thick Russian accent and a lot of expressive warmth has a field day with Grandma Ada. Diana Muldaur well captures the brittle emotional state of Alexandra and later most effectively conveys her muted condition. Victor French beautifully plays a handyman whose son (Clarence Crow) is murdered during the killing spree, and Portia Nelson likewise gets nicely inside her stern neighbor character Mrs. Rowe who also comes to an untimely end.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully realized in the 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color is wonderfully conveyed in consistently rendered hues that are most appealing and somewhat suggestive of an earlier era, the skin tones always completely believable. Sharpness is usually excellent though there are a couple of softer than expected shots with contrast that’s occasionally a trifle light. Black levels are usually quite good though not always plumbing the depths of inkiness. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix reproduces the cinema experience of the era with a very effective mono track. Dialogue has been nicely recorded and isn’t compromised by the mixing with sound effects or Jerry Goldsmith’s edgy score. There are no age-related artifacts like hiss or crackle to intrude on the suspenseful viewing experience the film offers.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Isolated Score Track: the Jerry Goldsmith score is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo reproduction.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Theatrical Trailer (3:10, SD)
Six-Page Booklet: contains a superb collection of color stills, poster art on the back cover, and film historian’s Julie Kirgo’s astute analysis of the movie.
The Other was one of the last of its breed: a horror film that eschewed stomach-churning blood and guts for more internalized, chill-inducing effects (The Exorcist would be unveiled the following year). There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if there are any still available. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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