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The Orphanage

A movie directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

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Thrills and chills without the (blood) spills...

  • May 8, 2009
The Orphanage (El Orphanato) - the feature film debut from Spanish director J.A. Bayona - is, in essence, an old-fashioned haunted house movie, dripping with atmosphere and wonderfully unsettling.
The film tells the story of a woman who purchases and moves into an old orphanage where she was raised. Soon, secrets of the past begin to surface and a mystery unfolds that threatens the safety of her own son.
This superbly crafted film kept me gripped right up until its disturbing and moving conclusion. It was so refreshing to see a horror movie that doesn't rely on cheap shocks and OTT gore. Much like Roeg's "Don't Look Now" and Kubrick's "The Shining", this film manages to create a palpable feeling of dread and foreboding.
This isn't the kind of film that will be liked by someone with a short attention span or someone more suited to contemprary 'gorno' horror movies, but if you like well told, intelligent, engrossing, suspense-filled stories, this one's for you.
File this alongside Alejandro Amenabar's "The Others" and producer Guillermo Del Toro's own  "The Devil's Backbone" - two other movies I'd highly recommend if you enjoy this one.

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August 13, 2010
I'll definitely have to remember this one next time I rent movies...I've been in the mood for something suspenseful! Wonderful review :)
August 13, 2010
Thanks, yabookqueen! If you're in the mood for suspense....... ......... .......... *thinks that's enough suspense for now*..... this film will definitely deliver. :)
May 26, 2010
oh yes! This is one of those movies that I really liked! Glad I came across this review and we rated it just the same.
June 01, 2010
Cheers, Woopak!. I love movies like this - you hear good things through word of mouth, watch with little expectation or knowledge of what you're about to see, and you're totally blown away. I had the same thing with "Children of Men" a few years ago.
May 13, 2009
I am a horror fan, but I like variety in my diet and so I can certainly appreciate this Del Toroesque film. Have you seen Del Toro's CRONOS?
June 01, 2010
Yeah, I think Cronos is a great film. Del Toro is one of the finest directors working today, in my opinion. I know what you mean about having a little variety in your movie diet. I love to consume all kinds of movies, but some, like this one, are far more nutritious than others. :) By the way, apologies for the (embarrassingly) late reply! *hangs head in shame*
June 01, 2010
Better late than never.
May 09, 2009
Great review! I've been interested in seeing this. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to scary movies, so it is refreshing to hear that this has an interesting story line and doesn't play into the blood and gore factor. What types of TV shows do you like? Have you ever watched Dexter?
May 09, 2009
Glad you liked the review. I love Dexter! I think it's one of the best shows on TV at the moment.
May 08, 2009
I've been wondering about this film! Thanks for your great review. I'm much more of a thriller type girl than horror.
May 09, 2009
Thanks! I hope you enjoy the movie. :)
More The Orphanage reviews
review by . May 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     We ask a lot out of the horror genre and the filmmakers involved, and often get nothing in return. Remakes are not what we want, and neither are meaningless exercises in violence and sadism. What we need more of is real fear; the kind that sends shivers up your spine. The kind that makes you think. The kind that makes you wait. The kind that people seem to have forgotten.    Well, perhaps it is not right for me to say that EVERYONE has …
review by . April 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The old stone mansion that once was an orphanage sits isolated within its ill-kempt gardens and grounds. The abandoned lighthouse on the cliff not far away no longer shines a beacon. The cave below and the sandy beach still receive the incoming tide. Be wary.       Laura Sanchez grew up in the orphanage. When she was about seven she was adopted and left. Now she is 37, married to Carlos, and they are parents to a little boy, Simon, about seven. They adopted Simon, who doesn't …
review by . January 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
movie poster
THE ORPHANAGE is the latest supernatural film from Spain which definitely has the feel of Guillermo del Toro's influence. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, based on the screenplay by Sergio Sanchez; the film is an enchanting, creative gothic horror film that follows the footsteps of "The Devil's Backbone", "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Others". Much like the aforementioned films, "The Orphanage" has a theme to it, it is not a fast-paced horror thriller with the …
review by . January 09, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Guillermo del Toro got behind this movie for good reason. It witfully dances around the unknown, then leads you down a gnarly path twist by twist. Very well done, and look forward to watching it again.
review by . December 03, 2008
Pros: Acting, plot, pacing, art direction, cinematography      Cons: Some of the imagery is heavy handed and only a little heavy handed      The Bottom Line: The Orphanage takes the tools of a scary movie and makes it something exciting and beautiful to watch.  I can't think of someone I would advise against seeing it.       Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. How do you make …
review by . October 07, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
The Orphanage, does bring sophistication in ghost stories which is rarely heard of, but Guillermo Del Toro manages to pull it off time and time again, and somehow he even managed to inject his magic into this one, which he only produced - as this very much plays out like one of his own films. Not to discredit Mr. Bayona, though, for he has done a fine job. This is a dark, powerful, and moving masterpiece that both adheres to convention and brings some new, more artistic elements to the table in …
review by . May 10, 2008
Excellent Spanish gothic film by first time director Juan Antonia Bayona that feels like and Edgar Allan Poe poem. Along the lines of "The Devil's Backbone (Special Edition), and The Others (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) this Spanish film proves to be a great haunting movie. Creepy in all the right places. Suspense builds throughout the movie at a perfect pace; this is basically the perfect formula film. First off, the acting is phenomenal. Every single actor, especially Belén Rueda, delivers an …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
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Member Since: May 8, 2009
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It's only his first film, but Spain’s Juan Antonio Bayona has already figured out the secret to a successful supernatural thriller: emphasize character over special effects. Like Walter Salles'sDark Waterand Alejandro Amenábar'sThe Others,The Orphanagepivots on a pretty woman and an unusual child. When her old orphanage goes on the market, Laura (Belén Rueda, Amenábar'sThe Sea Inside) and Carlos (Fernando Cayo) settle in with their son, Simón (Roger Príncep). Once acclimated to the remote seaside surroundings, they plan to re-open it as a home for special-needs children. Meanwhile, their seven-year-old doesn't know he's adopted or that he has a life-threatening illness. He does, however, have a lot of imaginary playmates. When Simón disappears without a trace, his parents contact the police, but to no avail. Because Laura has been hearing odd noises and having strange visions, they proceed to consult a medium. Aurora (Geraldine Chaplin, speaking perfect Spanish) is convinced they aren't alone. Carlos has his doubts, but Laura makes like a detective and revisits her childhood--through photographs, home movies, and exploration of the spooky stone manor--to determine who or what abducted her son. Produced and presented by Guillermo Del Toro,The Orphanageis less fanciful than his works, though it does bear a vague resemblance to the ghostlyDevil's Backbone. There are a few gory make-up effects, but ...
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