Friday, June 20, 2008
Movie Reviews: THE ORPHANAGE
The Orphanage, presented by Oscar-Nominee Guillermo del Toro, centers on a Laura (Belen Rueda from The Sea Inside) who purchases her beloved childhood orphanage with dreams of restoring and reopening the long abandoned facility as a place for disabled children. Once there, Laura discovers that the new environment awakens her son's imagination, but the ongoing fantasy games he plays with an invisible friend quickly turn into something more disturbing. Upon seeing her family increasingly threatened by the strange occurrences in the house, Laura looks to a group of parapsychologists for help in unraveling the mystery that has taken over the place.
Opened December 28, 2007
Runtime:1 hr. 38 min.
Rated R for some disturbing content
Cast: Geraldine Chaplin, Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep, Mabel
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Genres: Supernatural Horror, Fantasy, Horror, Gothic Film
The Orphanage is an emotionally gripping gothic ghost story of the highest degree. First time director Juan Antonio Bayona, with some help from producer Guillermo del Toro, weaves a wonderfully dark tome using some excellent cinematography and clever devices throughout his film. Bayona creates a thoroughly intriguing scavenger hunt that hooks it teeth into you and grips you throughout. The Orphanage is like a hybrid of The Others, The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist and The Shining wrapped in one beautiful gothic shell. Belén Rueda, who at times looks like at younger Spanish Faye Dunaway, deserves huge accolades for her performance as it envelopes the viewer in her torment and ultimate obsession. There are moments in the film where her characters grief is truly palpable. Experienced horror hounds won't find the gory thrills some of the more the current American horror provides and it's not the type of movie that'll have you shooting out of your seat the entire time. It's a slow burn type of movie which uses atmosphere and the locale to its max potential creating dread within the viewer. If I have a minor complaint, its that the movie feels kind of familiar, using conceits and devices that we've seen before, while it reminded me of quite a few films it reminded me most of Del Toro's Spanish film The Devil's Backbone. That being said it's done so well and Belén Rueda's performance is so strong it's hard not to enjoy this ghost story.