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4.0 out of 5 stars48
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 5 June 2011
I saw this last night after it being made "Film of the Week" on BBC's Kermode & Mayo film review. It's a film that plays on some of our simplest fears - fear of the dark and fear of the unknown. And whilst I guessed what would happen in quite a few areas, there was one point in the film when I was completely engrossed in Julia's anxiety - like her, I didn't know who to trust and I doubted everything I suspected.

For me, the best thrillers are the ones that create atmosphere and this film does it brilliantly. I felt very uneasy and tense for a large part of it. Belén Rueda was great as Julia and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her ("The Orphanage" is now definitely on my 'to see' list). Just a slight warning if you're squeamish about eyes, there's one scene you might want to avoid, but don't let that put you off the rest of the film!

So why not 5 stars? A few things annoyed me - there's no way Julia would be allowed to stay in that house on her own after everything that happened and then there was the rusty, dark community centre (which, whilst visually and atmospherically great, was not very believable). BUT I have to agree with Mark Kermode's comment on the film: "If you can give me one of these every now and then - a proper, inventive psychological... that is put together with craftsman-like care and attention - that will keep me going."
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on 26 August 2011
Julia's twin sister killed herself but there is something quite not right. Is there really someone who caused it or is it just her imagination running wild? When Julia and her husband, Isaac, go to her sister's home to prepare the funeral for Sara, she can feel it too. Everybody around her does not see what Julia's eyes see. Yes, there is evil but is it a ghost? a presence? an unknown something?

This chiller from Spain is superbly crafted and the eerie ambiance makes this a scary affair for me. The director really knows how to play a lot of tricks with your mind, you will never know what is the cause of all of this until near the end of this atmospheric thriller. Belén Rueda who played Julia and her twin sister Sara is so magnificent in her double roles.

Don't let the subtitles ruin the fun in watching this Spanish flick. Make sure you dim the lights and open your eyes!
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on 27 January 2012
The story is tense and keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way till its climatic conclusion. It is well filmed, adding more tension and excitement to a fantastic story line.
I would recommend this film. It is well worth the money, but it's best watched with the lights on!
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on 14 August 2014
Even if youre not a fan of subtitles give this a try. Fabulous acting, high tension from the beginning, kept me guessing til the end. Love this!
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on 5 April 2016
Absolutely loved this movie, certainly makes you think what would happen if it was you and how you would deal with the fear of the darkness.
Without giving the end away...it was very touching ending, quite beautiful in fact.
A very good film and so glad I watched it, definitely kept my attention throughout with a nice little twist, although one part was a bit predictable enjoyable little film where the subtitles weren't over Intrusive and easy to follow!.
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on 25 March 2014
I love Del Torro's films, and this is no exception. Whilst trying to convince everyone she's not paranoid, Julia has to work alone to unravel the mystery of her sister's apparent suicide. With more twists and turns that I expected, it kept me guessing right to the end. Chilling and scary, I would recommend it. Just make sure you lock the doors before you start watching... and keep the lights on!
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on 1 July 2012
This film is simply superb. You must watch it. For those of a more curious nature please read on to find out why.

The story surrounds Julia, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition something she shared with her twin sister, Sara, who is found hanged in the opening of the film. Despite all evidence suggesting a suicide, when Julia returns to her sister's house she comes to consider other, unseen factors were involved in Sara's death. Then when she finds out things about her husband, her life is cast in more yet more uncertainty and with her eyesight becoming less reliable, Julia starts to understand more and more about her twins life before her tragic death. Is seeing really believing?

Without ever stepping out from being anything other than completely captivating and believable this film flows along at the perfect tempo. The script writing is excellent and I can only imagine that the translation is perfect too. Every scene is delivered with purpose and meaning and the film is shot with outstanding cinematography. The conclusion of the story is it's real strength (don't you just hate films with poor endings!) and really what makes it so excellent. The story comes together with such finesse that this film will be one which will warrant many rewatches!

If anyone wants to know how a thriller film should be made this is where you should go first of all. Brilliant.
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on 4 November 2015
Excellent Spanish psychological thriller. It's not really a horror film apart from one 'eye-watering' moment, but is much more an exercise in how to build and sustain Hitchcockian levels of suspense & paranoia. Beautifully shot and paced throughout and very well acted by Belén Rueda. Loved it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 August 2013
I didn't find this very riviting; a rather drawn out convoluted and erratic film regarding a woman with a degenerative eye condition investigating her twin sisters death, denoted as suicide by the authorities.
It wasn't clear for the most part how restricted Julia's eyesight was at any given time, sometimes she seemed near totally blind, sometimes fine with several spectrums in between. Some medical explanation was given (deteriorates with stress) but it was played very much as the scene demanded to avoid her seeing who was who and therefore stretch both the films length and credulity levels.
The whole protagonists scenario was a bit hmmmm. A bit daft really. Script wise this film has significant problems but the performances were all good and with an occasional shock moment thrown in most people I imagine would not feel too cheated by watching this once. I don't think it's got any re-play value though, maybe if it had been trimmed by 30 mins but as it stands, for a purchase, it's overlong and not interesting enough to justify being largely underwhelmed for the best part of 2 hours.
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on 28 October 2011
Love all his films - realism - suspense - good story line - great acting and raw - must not be missed and is along side the orphanage - pans labarenth - subtitles are ther bug easy to follow without missing anything - great film !!
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