Monday, June 12, 2017

When Twins Attack, or Thoughts on The Other

From the Tom Tryon novel of the same name, The Other (1972) lulls the viewer in with a false sense of nostalgia for 1935 New England; running home from school, playing in the barn, stealing jam from mean old neighbor ladies.  This is Ray Bradbury-territory for twins Niles and Holland, who have lost their father and live with their extended family and invalid mother in a creaky farmhouse.   Holland seems to have a mean streak and is the dominant one, Niles shows some talent in astral projection; this is the only supernatural element in an otherwise taut and effective psychological thriller.  From director Robert Mulligan of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), the movie has that same sentimental perspective of Depression-era childhood, aided in part by a first rate soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, but this particular family has more than its fair share of dark secrets and mysterious deaths. 
With a very young John Ritter in an early role as Rider, the twins’ brother-in-law, and Diana Muldaur, Dr. Pulaski from Star Trek; The Next Generation (and Dr. Miranda Jones in 1968, what I guess we’re now calling the Prime Timeline) as Alexandra, Niles and Holland’s mother.  Also with Uta Hagen from The Boys From Brazil (1978) and Reversal of Fortune (1990), as Ada, the twins’ Russian grandmother.  If the name Uta Hagen sounds familiar that’s because she was an acting teacher whose students included Jack Lemmon, Sigourney Weaver and Al Pacino.
Reminiscent of The Prestige (2006) and The Uninvited (2009), and if you’ve seen those movies you’ll have an idea of where this one is going.  There’s a twist, a particularly nasty and compelling one, and if you stay till the end you’ll be left reeling.

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