My Movie Review: The Orphanage (2007)

21 Oct
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, a Catalonian filmmaker born in Barcelona, Spain who was awarded Best Short Film for the movie “Mis Vacaciones” in the year 1999 by the Barcelona Curt Ficcions and also won the Audience Award given by Toulouse Cinespaña on the same movie; filmed under Picturehouse and distributed by Warner Brothers, with a screenplay from Sergio G. Sánchez and produced by Pan’s Labyrinth director and Oscar-Nominee Guillermo Del Toro, “El Orfanato” (The Orphanage) is a horror/suspense movie that narrates the story of a woman who after thirty years returns to live at the large, old and long-abandoned orphanage where she was raised as a kid.

Laura (Belén Rueda) goes back to the institution with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and seven-year old son Simon (Roger Príncep) with the intention of opening a new center to take care of a small number of disabled children. Simon seems uncomfortable at the new location and keeps having nightmares. He’s later on inexplicably led to finding out two things about himself Laura and Carlos were not planning on telling him until later. As a scary social worker comes visit Simon’s parents and makes a threatening interview, Laura sacks her from the house asking her not to come back.

Suddenly things turn permanently bad as the couple gets ready to welcome their first new residents; and soon after making new invisible friends, young Simon refuses to come downstairs to the opening reunion following to which he sadly disappears. His mother gets anxious and begins an extensive search while months go by without finding any trail of the now missing Simon. Desperate to get answers, Laura resorts to a parapsychology specialist as strange occurrences start happening and ominous presences seem to inhabit in the house. In addition, various signals hint that Simon is in some way linked to Laura’s childhood friends, so she has a medium visit the house although at some point her help seems to be useless.

Even though Laura’s husband prompts her to simply leave the house, Laura refuses to go saying that she needs some time alone. Right after, she is drawn into the repressed memories of her past and disturbing revelations begin to uncover while she keeps focusing on getting her son back.

Although the film progresses in and out of reality, The Orphanage remains as a strong piece of work unfolding a sophisticated story that succeeds to blend typical scare elements and sudden shocks with the solid performance of the characters, which all together with the great cinematography, sound, script, music, narrative, powerful ending and perfect editing make of this film a masterpiece of cinema and well worth seeing.

The sequence of the medium was the most impressive I’ve seen in horror movies of the kind, and as the story ended, there was nothing left unexplained, which makes this movie stand apart from many other horror movies whose plot and story behind are weak. Although the genre of this movie is terror, there aren’t any big shocks, but you will still jump from your seat. This movie will actually give you a great excuse not to let go of the hand of your significant other, and that’s something not all movies achieve. The scenes aren’t gore or dreadful, but the film still keeps the audience on suspense and every single aspect of the story makes perfect sense, which is great. In other words, there aren’t any loose ends.

Though the film works many different elements together and the story seems obvious at some points, it has a very touching and unforeseen ending as the paths that lead to it are not exactly what were in the mind of the spectator. Watching this film completely changed my perception of Spanish movies as I usually don’t like them all that much since from my point of view they are most of the times full of sex, pointless arguments, weak story lines and lack memorable endings.

Another positive aspect I found in this movie and can’t help mentioning is that cigarettes and smoking are not endorsed or promoted in any way, at least not that I can remember. This might be irrelevant to some but is actually a big plus for me.

The movie was released in Spain and Mexico on October 11th, and I went to see it last Friday October 19th although I had to sit by myself because the auditorium was packed; I certainly missed my boyfriend sitting next to me, so make sure you get your tickets in advance and find good seats when you go see it. It will be released in the U.S. on December the 28th this year and probably much later in South America although my best guess is that it will depend on the success of the movie, which collected about 6 million euros or over 8.5 million dollars in Spain alone in the first four opening days, which is pretty good for a Spanish movie.

The Orphanage is one of the best movies I’ve seen in ages, and I strongly recommend it to all those who love suspense movies.

Image by: Abandomoviez

The Orphanage trailer (Short English Version)

The Orphanage trailer (Long Spanish Version with Subtitles)

Official movie site: The Orphanage

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Posted by on October 21, 2007 in cosas que molan


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