The first film that comes to mind when thinking about plants and payoff is “The Others (2001)” with Nicole Kidman. Nicole Kidman plays Grace, the mother of two children, Anne & Nicolas, who raises two children alone in a huge mansion in the countryside. This is a suspenseful ghost story about a family who is left at home alone while the father is away at war.
One autumn day, three out of work caretakers arrive at the mansion looking for work. Mr. Tuttle is the anti-social gardener, Mrs. Mills an old good natured lady, and Lydia is a mute young girl. How could a single mother with two children care for a huge mansion all by herself. Makes sense to hire the three to help out if not only for a little while till the fathers return home.
You have three strange caretakers show up one day, which is strange because Grace did not advertise any help wanted ads, in addition to Grace’s children who have an allergy to light and must keep all the windows covered with sheets at all time during the day and now you have the complexities that allow for a great environment and opportunity for suspension of disbelief.
I found myself taken by the story, the atmosphere, the environment, the piano playing by its self, the curtains closing by themselves and of course, Victor, the ghost who would make sporadic appearances only in young Anne’s room for which only she could see him or talk to him. I have to admit that I was captivated by the story!!!
There are three plants in this story. First, the three caretakers try their hardest to keep Grace away from the outer yard for whatever reason unknown to us, the audience. Second, the ghost in Anne’s room keeps showing up in only her room and only she can see or talk with him. Third, the father while away at war, make a strange and mysterious appearance at the house to visit the family. I found this really strange that the father was able to visit his family during the war: however, this is the third plant
Everything comes together in the end when it is finally revealed that in all actuality the first plant pays off when Grace strays to the outer yard and noticed the graves. Then upon returning to the house, Grace and her children discover a séance to rid the home of ghosts, “NOW WAIT A MINUTE”, who are the ghosts here? The third payoff is that the father actually died in the war and he too was a ghost.
I think this film was Innovative in approach to the ghost story genre. I found that the three plants paid off very well in the end by bringing the story to an absolutely undeniable conclusion.