Sunday, April 27, 2008

El Orfanato

The Orphanage is a creepy supernatural film by first time director Juan Antonio Bayona (but produced by the very worthy Guillermo Del Toro ( of Pan's Labyrinth, Devil's Backbone, and Hellboy fame).

It weaves a chilling story of a woman, Laura, who with her husband purchases the old seaside orphanage she grew up in so that they and their (adopted) son can live there as well as run a home for special-needs children.

As soon as they arrive and begin to get accustomed to their surroundings, strange things begin to happen. (Don't they always?) Laura notices her son Simon talking, more than usual, to his newest imaginary friends - one in particular - Tomas. Simon seems to be preoccupied with the games he plays with Tomas. He also now angers easily and, after finding his adoption papers locked away in a drawer, screams at Laura saying she's not his mother and runs from the room.

This pivotal event occurs at the same time they are throwing a party for disabled children at the home. Everyone is dressed in masks, and even so, when a child appears with a strange burlap-type sack over his entire head, there seems to be no immediate concerns.

At this point, Simon mysteriously disappears. Poof! Not a trace of him anywhere.

Time passes with no sign of Simon. They have searched everywhere to no avail. I'm talkin' months go by! Laura is completely distraught and of course blames herself. Her husband wants her to leave the orphanage, as he fears for her well being and sanity. She tells him to leave but that she is staying for a few more days to tie up some loose ends.

Laura realizes there are forces at work against her that she must somehow overcome. All she wants to do is get her son back. The subsequent events really make up the backbone of the tale, and to tell more would give too much away. You just really need to experience it yourself.

There are some absolutely frightening elements in this film, but I would never say it is the scariest movie I have ever seen. It is quite a slow-burner, to be sure. The plot unfolds in an almost sluggish manner, but there are some truly creepy details and atmosphere you could cut through with a knife. The ending is by far the best part.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this, but if you are expecting gore galore, look elsewhere. But if you enjoyed movies like The Others, Ghost Story, or The Changeling - then by all means, check this one out.

No comments: