May 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Films |
Spanish horror film The Orphanage (El Orfanato) is director Juan Antonio Bayona’s debut movie. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is listed as a producer of this film and it’s possible to draw some similarities between this movie and Toro’s own Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), both drifting between reality and fantasy in an unusual but effective manner.
Spanish actress Belén Rueda gives a strong performance as a mother who returns with her husband and son to the orphanage she spent time in as a child, to re-open the home as a sanctuary for disabled children. Located near a lovely beach and overlooked by a lighthouse the beautiful house holds many secrets that our heroine doesn’t know as she was re-homed before the orphanage was closed. Secrets that the living want kept secret and the dead need the world to know!
The family’s only child Simón, who was adopted by the couple, starts playing games with a group of imaginary friends who teach the child thing about himself he has yet to be told by his parents. When suddenly Simón disappears without a trace, his mother has to join in the ghostly games to solve the mystery and save her son.
It’s nice to watch a ghost film that has an original plot and charming storyline. The majority of modern horrors churn out the same gang of teenagers being brutally murdered in as many horrific ways as possible. The Orphanage manages to get its scares without relying on gore.
It’s not massively scary. There are a few moments that will tighten the sphincter, in particular a very tense séance session that gets your heart racing. There’s also a little deformed orphan boy that wears a mask that could give you a few nightmares. Mostly the film relies on creaks and groans and things going bang in the night to put the frights up viewers.
This film is about the terror of losing a loved one to the unknown and relies on you becoming emotionally involved with the movie in order for you to fully appreciate it. As the film nears its conclusion there is a twist that’s both heart breaking and joyous. It should stay with you for a few days after which is often an indicator of a good film.
Beautifully shot film relying on atmosphere for its creepiness. A chilling yarn without any bloody violence, and for that it gets an 8/10.
by Ghastly McNasty
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