Chilling ghost story produced by Guillermo del Toro. Laura (Belen Rueda) has fond memories of the orphanage she grew up in. She was well cared for by the staff and she loved her fellow orphans like they were her own flesh and blood. Thirty years later, accompanied by her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and her 7-year-old son Simon (Roger Princep), she returns to her childhood home with a dream of restoring the now abandoned orphanage and reopening it as a home for disabled youngsters. However, it's not long before Simon starts communicating with an invisible new friend and telling strange stories. Carlos is skeptical of his son, believing that he is just seeking attention. Then Simon disappears without trace...
Backed by Guillermo del Toro and yet made by a surprisingly inexperienced group of film makers (especially considering the end result), The Orphanage
is a chilling, tense supernatural thriller that could certainly teach more established directors a thing or two about how to send shivers down the spine.
It tells the story of a woman, Laura, returning to the orphanage where she was raised as a child. Her plans are to look after sick children there, but it doesnt take long for things to go awry. Without giving too much away, visions from her past and a threat to her own family are the starting points for a complex and quite haunting thriller, that stays in the mind long after the credits have rolled.
A film that works on more than one level, The Orphanage really is some piece of work. Juan Antonia Bayona, behind the camera, generates an incredibly atmospheric mood that underpins the film, and wisely takes time to put pieces in place. Hes aided by a terrific cast, and an unsettling screenplay that layers in an uneasy horror thats as anti-Hollywood as it comes.
The result of all of this is one of the scariest films of recent times, and yet something that still manages to be that little bit more, that sticks in your mind for some time afterwards. Make no mistake, The Orphanage really is something different, and all the better for it. --Jon Foster