The Orphanage (2007)

the orphanage poster 2007 movie spanish
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking great acting

Story misses some potential scares

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Orphanage

Studio:  Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos

Genre(s):  Horror/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 20, 2007 (Cannes)/December 28, 2007 (U.S.)

MPAA Rating:  R

orphanage tomas costume sackboy

Creepy kid…CHECK!

Growing up an orphan has made Laura (Belén Rueda) want to give the opportunity she had at a happy childhood to other.  With her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) she has purchased the orphanage where she was a child and is planning to reopen the orphanage for children with disabilities and those who are challenging to place.  The arrival of a strange woman (Montserrat Carulla) sends Laura’s life into a tailspin as her adopted son Simón (Roger Princep) learns of his past and his illness…and a party where Simón disappears leads Laura on a search that will uncover horrors hidden within the home she loved.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, The Orphanage (El orfanato) is a Spanish supernatural horror movie.  The film was produced by Guillermo del Toro and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.  It received positive reviews from critics.

orphanage belen rueda dinner ghosts

If you are going to go crazy, do it with a bit more financial efficiency…make less food for ghosts

Some movies you can just tell are going to be creepy, and The Orphanage is one of them.  The problem arises by how the film decides to be scary, and The Orphanage fortunately takes a rather subtle approach to the horror…making even creepier.  A ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the remainder of the review.

The film has essentially two stories that merge into one story.  You have the story of what happened in the orphanage after Laura left it and what happened to Simón.  The horror of the orphanage involves the murder of the disabled children and the hiding of their deaths.  Their spirits still haunt the home and Simón (who is HIV positive) can see things his parents can’t.  This of course is written off as imagination, but when Simón disappears, Laura misinterprets what she’s seeing as Simón’s imaginary friends being real…which they were.  The horror however is that Simón wasn’t whisked away by spirits.  He was accidentally trapped in a basement room when the door was mistakenly shut and fell through a rotten banister to his death…which Laura even heard.  It is horrific and tragic.

orphanage laura belen rueda tomas room

I’m starting to have a bit of buyer’s remorse about this whole orphanage thing…

The cast is fantastic.  Belén Rueda really commands the picture as Laura.  She’s determined and willing to accept anything to get her child back.  She opens herself to ideas she’s never considered and ultimately chooses death and the role of an everlasting protector over life.  Fernando Cayo is the realist who is trying to convince his wife that Simón is most likely dead, but he also realizes that isn’t an acceptable answer for his wife.  The movie features American actress Geraldine Chaplin in a Spanish speaking role as one of the psychics.

The movie looks great.  It has a gothic and classic horror feel to it.  The primary spirit (a boy named Tomás) has a small but horrifying confrontation with Laura that is a great jump scare (and it has to be noted that Sam from Trick ’r Treat seems to borrow from Tomás burlap “Sackboy” look (and also uses it effectively).  This is all wrapped up in a great location (though liberties were taken with the actual real-world counterparts in the story).

orphanage belen rueda simon body

There’s no place like home

The Orphanage is a good, creepy movie that maintains a sense of horror years later and knowing what happens.  It is a film that gets better over time and has gained a bit of a following as a result.  It might not be the most “in your face” horror movie you’ve ever seen, but it does have a great tone and feel, but it does blend aspects of stories like A Turn of the Screw and even films like Poltergeist.  As with most foreign films, The Orphanage has been floated around for an American remake, but with few exceptions, I’d recommend watching the original if it ever happens.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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