Alejandro Amenabar's taut, highly effective thriller is such a refreshment simply because it delights in creating an old-fashioned set of rules for the viewer to go along with, and it results in a picture as noteworthy as The Sixth Sense in toying with viewer expectation and providing non-gratuitous scares that are genuinely earned. A rare movie that honestly deserves comparison with Alfred Hitchcock's sterling oeuvre, the film is helped out considerably by its focused, excellent performances, especially embodied in Nicole Kidman's magnificent turn as an icy, high-strung mother caught up in a maelstrom of frayed nerves. Kidman often seems miscast in certain movies, but here she marvelously conveys the character's nervous curiosity and provides a sturdy audience surrogate so that the film never seems too out of reach. The performances by the young cast are also superb, and Fionnula Flanagan registers strongly as the house's nanny. Surprising, narratively sound and armed with believable suspense, The Others proves that the haunted house genre need not be overwrought CGI and dated spooks in order to work. This is Amenabar's first English-language effort, which was co-produced by Kidman's ex Tom Cruise; his feature Open Your Eyes was remade as Vanilla Sky by writer/director Cameron Crowe, starring, of all people, Cruise.