Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Orphanage

"The Orphanage", or "El Orfanato" in Spanish, (2007, J.A. Bayona, Guillerma del Toro, Warner Bros. Spain) is a chilling Spanish film about a haunted orphanage and the family who come to live there.

Unlike in "The Awakening", Laura (Belén Rueda) knows that she is moving back into her childhood home, an old and now disused orphanage next to the sea (remember the sea and also lighthouses, these are important).

She moves in along with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their adopted and ill son Simón (Roger Príncep). Simón does not know that he's adopted and also does not know that he has HIV.

As in all good ghost stories surrounding young children, Simón soon begins to talk of imaginary friends, in particular a boy called Tomás who wears a creepy mask made from a sack, and enjoys playing treasure hunts (commonly known as stealing your stuff and hiding it).

Tomás is the one with the big connection to the sea...

Laura and Carlos hope to open their new home as a place for disabled children, but alas their dreams are shattered when during an open day, Simón goes missing and they cannot find him.

In distress Laura slowly begins to unravel, and Simón is missing for months before she finally turns to confronting ghostly Tomás and her own past in order to get her son back. But the main question is, will it work?

A nicely jumpy movie with a slow burning, tense pace which quickens periodically and keeps your interest. Ghostly children movies are always a big hitter with me, kids are creepy! But the film is artfully done and connects the beginning to the end very nicely.

There's not a lot of gore, but there are some very horrific injuries. This isn't a slasher, so don't expect bucket loads of blood.

My only issue with this movie's plot is that Laura didn't know Tomás... I won't give too much away, but if the other children knew of him, surely he wasn't hiding too well! You'd think she'd remember a creepy kid in a mask!

I do feel for poor Carlos though.

Again, if you can't abide subtitles this is probably not the film for you, but if you can it's a good watch!

(Picture: Warner Bros. Spain)