I'm not certain of exactly how old I was when I first encountered THE OTHER, but it was definitely during a network TV airing sometime around when I was eleven or twelve. It was the perfect age in which to discover it because I was right on the cusp of adolescence, the point where one leaves behind the carefree games and frivolities of one's formative years and prepares to step into the changes wrought by adolescence that subsequently usher us into the experiences and concerns of adulthood, and its story addresses the oft-romanticized seemingly-endless summer of childhood through a dark and disturbing lens.
Set during the summer in the rustic Connecticut of 1935, the story tells of 11-year-old Holland (Chris Udvarnoky) and Niles Perry (Martin Udvarnoky), identical twin brothers who live on a farm with their family, and the events are depicted from Holland's point of view. To outward appearances, all of the tropes of a childhood yarn taking place in that era are in place for a wistful evocation of the sort of innocence forever lost in the wake of World War II, but the twins' world is marked by tragedies that have left the family with much to deal with while the boys carry on as though little or nothing had happened. Earlier in the year, their father died in an accident in the farm's apple cellar, a location that is declared off-limits afterward, and their mother (Diana Muldaur) is left in a state of deep depression that renders her in a dis-associative state, hardly ever leaving her room. Taking care of business around the farm are a few hired hands and a number of relatives, key among whom is the boys' loving Russian immigrant grandmother, Ada (Uta Hagen). Ada teaches the boys "the Great Game," a form of consciousness projection, as members of their family sometimes possesses a gift of minor psychic powers, an ability that allows them to inhabit the bodies of other living creatures, like birds and such, and see and experience the world through their eyes. Of the twins, it should be noted that Niles is sweet and gentle, while Holland has a bearing marked by a mischievous and vindictive streak.
Ada (Uta Hagen) coaches Niles (Chris Udvarnoky) in "the Great Game."
Holland (Martin Udvarnoky) preforms a magic trick. Penn and Teller he ain't...
THE OTHER is leisurely-paced, gore-free, and very low-key in how it presents itself, but believe me when I tell you that its shocks are intense and unforgettable. One of the very best in the "scary kids" sub-genre, this one is definitely worth your time.