Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Orphanage

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona.
2008. Rated R, 105 minutes.
Belen Rueda
Fernando Cayo
Roger Princep
Mabel Rivera

Plot: Laura (Rueda) is a former orphan who now has an adopted son of her own, Simon (Princep). Together, with her husband Carlos (Cayo), they now live in a mansion that happens to have once been the orphanage where Laura spent much of her childhood. Simon seems to have lots of imaginary friends. When Simon goes missing, Laura suspects these "friends."

The Good: Director Juan Antonio Bayona shows great restraint. It would've been easy to ramp up the horror angles of the story and throw lots of cheap thrills on the screen. Instead, he focuses more on Laura's loosening grip on reality and the effect of Simon's disappearance on her and Carlos' relationship. This makes it a creepier film and adds power to its ending. To pull this off, Bayona needed a really strong performance out of lead actress Belen Rueda and he got it.

The Bad: The movie moves a bit too slow, dragging in places. Husband Carlos is not involved enough in the proceedings. He gets to a point we expect him to but he seems to get there too easily. It's almost like it's not really "that" big a deal to him Simon is missing. People that go into this expecting a straight horror flick might be disappointed.

The Ugly: Carlos tries to give someone in need their mouth is missing.

Recommendation: This is a solid supernatural flick. It's got a creepy vibe to it and actually feels like a mix of Poltergeist and 1408. It's a little slow in spots but its ending makes up for it. It's probably the best horror movie of 2008. Warning to subtitleophobes: This one is "presented by" (I hate that term in movies) Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro and like that one is in Spanish.

The Opposite View: Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out New York

What the Internet Says: 7.7/10 on (10/20/10), 86% on, 74/100 on

MY SCORE: 7/10

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