Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
It is a summer when bad luck just seems to come in waves. Maybe they should have taken warning last spring, when Father was killed by a trapdoor that fell on him in the barn. Now things are really getting bad. Mother has been paralyzed in a fall down the stairs, and Marshall landed on a pitchfork in the hay, and Aunt Vee must have had a heart attack or something and her body wasn’t found for days. And the baby . . .
Well, it’s like they say. Things gotta get worse before they get any better. Niles, a chubby little boy with the face of an angel, plays around the farm and tries to stay out of trouble. Somehow, he’s the only one who never gets paralyzed or skewered or anything. But he has his own cross to bear: His twin brother Holland departed this earth some months ago after a strange illness.
Well, maybe Holland departed and maybe he didn’t. Everyone else in the family is under the impression that Holland is dead and buried, but Niles sees him clear as day, and talks with him, and they play together out in the woods. Holland keeps getting Niles in trouble. And when Niles gets in trouble, everybody’s in trouble. Just ask Father, or Mother, or Russell, or Aunt Vee. Or the baby . . .
Robert Mulligan’s “The Other” is a movie that is maybe about the supernatural and maybe not. It all depends on whether Niles is schizo, or whether Holland really has returned from the dead, possessed his twin brother’s soul, and is stage-managing the troubles. My notion is that Niles is cuckoo. But Mulligan plays, a cagey game with his camera, always showing us Holland from Niles point of view, but never showing us Niles as Holland would see him (if Holland were there). Also, nobody else sees Holland.