Genres: Drama, Horror,
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: Esta Vivo!
Laboratorio de Nuevos
Review done by: Serial McKiller
Online since: February 20th, 2006
Starring: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Montserrat
Carulla, Mabel Rivera, Andrés Gertrúdix, Roger Príncep
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Synopsis: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, where
she opens an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son
starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.
In classic ghost story form, "El Orfanato" (or 'The Orphanage') using the
usual items; old houses, a jaded history, a heroin with a history with the
location, dark caves and of course the topper, children and then manage to
pull off a fresh, frightening and emotional tale of a mother's quest to find
and save her lost son. As is well known this is a film being presented by
Oscar nominated filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, director of 'Pan's Labyrinth',
'Hellboy' and 'The Devil's Backbone'. He also pulls executive producer reins
and the film seems up his alley, but if very much a child of director Juan
Antonio Bayona and writer Sergio G. Sanchez. Tale is that of a woman
whom years later returns to the long since closed down orphanage she
grew up in, to fix it up and repopulate it. She always found it to be a home
and she wants to make it a home for other kids. He has an adopted son
named Simon who while about 8-years of age, still has imaginary friends he
talks to and plays with.
However, one day after exploring a beach side cave he meets yet some
more friends. Six to be exact, and these friends like to play...a lot. Then
the weirdness begins. When I saw weirdness I don't mean in the sense of
bleeding walls or voices or anything. I mean simple things. The sort of stuff
you hear about on ghost testimonial shows about objects missing and
people around them behaving strangely. All this leading up to her first
encounter with Tomas. Her son's newest and probably most bizarre friend.
After that her son goes missing and for six months nothing is done.
During this time you see her fighting to find the truth and to not be
thought of as crazy. Her own husband just stands in the back and nods up
to a point when generally one must say enough is enough.
"The Orphanage" plays on a very strong key of suspense as well, being
that less is more. In this case 90% of the film was just the idea of what's
making that sound or what's behind that door. Only every so often were
we allowed the pay off and when you get it, it's indeed impressive and
terrifying in the subtle sense of a ghost story. It does at times parallel the
Nicole Kidman film 'The Others" which I never liked too much and this, in
tone anyways is like this, but "The Orphanage" is about 50% better. In the
end everything is wrapped up, understandable and well crafted. It's
emotional and dramatic on one hand and equally frightening and
suspenseful on the other. This is terrific horror from a terrific group of
filmmakers that will hopefully become better known very soon after this.