Remember when Nirvana exploded and every major label scrambled to sign any band they could find that was even remotely similar? Well, if The Sixth Sense is Nirvana (and given how quickly M Night Shyamalan squandered whatever goodwill his breakout hit engendered, I hesitate to draw the comparison), then The Others is Bush.
The themes, tone, essential plot points, and even the color palette are all lifted directly. To its credit, this is not immediately apparent, and the way the exposition is carefully doled out over the first two acts makes it genuinely intriguing for awhile. But once it starts clueing you in to you what’s really going on, it feels all too familiar.
The main thing that made The Sixth Sense work was that it was actually an affecting drama (thanks in large part to Toni Collette’s overlooked performance) masquerading as a horror movie. The Others has the same goal, but the drama falls flat. Nicole Kidman works so hard to keep you guessing whether she’s crazy or not that it becomes a study in overt dynamics (which the overwrought score echos faithfully). Everything out of her mouth is either a whisper or a shout, and it pretty quickly gets to be too annoying to have any sympathy for her.
If you’re in the mood for a good maternally-minded ghost story, I recommend skipping this one and seeing The Orphanage instead.