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DVD Review: The Orphanage (2007) June 9, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Film, Reviews.
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Much like how Eli Roth relied on Quentin Taratino’s producer credit to give the extra leverage Hostel needed to become a hit, newcomer Juan Antionio Bayona can thank Pan’s Labryinth‘s Guillermo Del Toro for the extra international attention his small gem is receiving. But without the Del Toro name, it’s doubtful The Orphanage could become anything other than just a small Spanish horror flick — the kind that might occasionally pop up on your Netflix recommendations list as you stroke your chin and say, “The Orphanage, eh?” Actually, on second thought, that is exactly how I heard of this movie.


Aww, someone wants a hug.

The Orphanage is more of a thriller wrapped in a family drama than a horror flick. Sure there are ghosts and plenty of creepy moments, but there are less “Boo!” moments and more subtle, uncomfortable scenes from an involved family thriller. Laura (Belén Rueda), a former orphan in the orphanage, has returned back to the place she grew up to start a new orphanage for disabled children. Once she moves in, she notices her son is speaking to an alarming amount of invisible friends. As strange occurrences happen around the orphanage, the disappearance of her son brings her over the edge and she tries to investigate the history of the orphanage and its spooky inhabitants.

In a lot of ways, The Orphanage is similar to Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, a horror film that also dealt with child ghosts and family drama. The main difference between these two is that The Orphanage has great tone and style, but is less polished plot wise. There are many glaring plot holes in the story, but the film doesn’t suffer from these mistakes. The payoff is still just as rewarding, and the more sinister moments will still linger way after the movie has ended. Maybe next time Juan Antonio Bayona won’t need Guillermo Del Toro’s name. His debut shows he can stand on his own.

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