The bucolic image of rural life is only removed once, in a fascinating scene where Niles goes to town and sneaks into the freak show of a traveling circus. As he observes these showmen as they relax in their dressing room we realise that beauty is only skin deep, their menacing veneer rendered benign once viewed away from the spotlight. Tight, constricting close-ups of Niles' point of view allude to the evil that festers behind Holland's youthful innocence, but by restricting us to one perspective we're aware that we're only getting half the picture. Despite writing the screenplay Tryon would later talk of his own disappointment with the film. When interviewed in 1977 he explained how it was ruined in the editing suite - "God knows, it was badly cut and faultily directed."
Indeed, Mulligan's rote approach to storytelling never manages to capture the suspense Tryon's novel became famous for. There's a sophisticated lyricism to how the story unfolds, yet any tension harnessed within the prose is diluted by an inability to create a suitably disturbing atmosphere. The 'twist' should provoke shock and awe, yet is delivered in such a matter-of-fact fashion that it undermines the unsettling sense of confusion that proceeds it. As a portrait of small town America The Other may be an eerie image of cold-war paranoia, yet to be enjoyed as a sinister psychological horror you'll need to be prepared to rummage through the pastoral adornments to pinpoint the root of unease.
Patrick Gamble | @PatrickJGamble