The Orphanage (2007)

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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

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Maybe this wasn’t the best financial venture…

Laura (Belén Rueda) and her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) return to the orphanage home where she grew up with their adopted child Simón (Roger Princep) to open a home for children with disabilities.  When a woman named Benigna Escobeda (Montserrat Carulla) appears claiming to be from child services, Simón begins acting strange and claims to have a new invisible friend named Tomás. Simón and Laura have a fight at the greeting party, and Simón disappears.  Now, Laura’s marriage is falling apart as she looks anywhere for answers including a psychic named Aurora (Geraldine Chaplin) who claims spirits inhabit the orphanage that might hold the keys to Simón’s disappearance.

Directed by first time director J.A. Bayona, The Orphanage (or the original Spanish title El Orfanato) was produced by Guillermo del Toro.  The movie was met with positive reviews and there was immediate talk of an American remake.

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I loved you in LittleBigPlanet

I liked The Orphanage the first time I saw it, but liked it more the second time.  The story has some need influences including the obvious Peter Pan theme running through the whole movies (ghosts never get old like the Lost Boys).  The other aspects adopted include Henry James’ mindbending The Turn of the Screw with a main character that might be going mad.  It also has a real Poltergeist feel with the psychic investigators who feel like they could have been lifted from the 1982 film.  The director has admitted that those movies and stories were big influences on the script.

A lot of the credits to the film’s success go to Belén Rueda.  Both Bayona and del Toro wanted Rueda after seeing The Sea Inside.  Her performance as the distraught mother is great.  From the happy times at the beginning to the film, to the moment of loss, to the search for Simón, her character’s range of emotion take a lot and Rueda carries the film.

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Guess who’s got a key, lady!

Belén Rueda has help from some great visuals and timed sounds.  The movie is creepy and has some jumps…even when you expect them.  The beautiful scenery of the beach and the cave is in great contrast to the dark, dingy and creepy orphanage.  I also commend the eerie sack-boy Tomás who is a bit underused, but still unnerving.

The Orphanage is worth checking out, possibly twice.  I dread a remake of this film because it will probably amp up the horror and jumps instead of emphasizing the dread, fear, and sadness of the situation.  The Orphanage might not pull out all the possible scares, but it does a good job trying.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @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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