Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review : The Orphanage

This is a review that I had to write for an English assignment a few years ago. Found it on an old blog of mine and decided to re-post it. I recently watched the orphanage and had forgotten just how creepy it was...
Title: The Orphanage 
Cast: Belèn Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Release: 11 January 2008 
Time: 105 minutes
 Juan Antonio Bayona

Bayona's Orphanage is a contemporary Spanish horror set in a scenic, coastal area in Sp
ain. The film focuses on a young couple, Laura played by Belèn Rueda, her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their adopted son Simòn. The family relocate to The Orphanage, an aged house in which our protagonist Laura spent her childhood. It's not long  before the building's dark history is projected in a supernatural manner. 

Laura's plan is to re-open the orphanage to children with special needs just as it was when she was a child. Her son, Simòn soon makes some imaginary friends to keep him company in the isolated house. As the story unfolds it is suggested that these new friends of Simòn's are less than savory as they begin to toy with the family by playing sinister games. Laura's dream of opening the orphanage is soon shattered as Simòn goes missing during a celebration. Laura believes that Simòn's new friends are responsible for his disappearance and that there is surely a supernatural explanation. As she becomes obsessed with investigating this, the atmosphere in the house becomes very macabre... 

Despite the use of classic Gothic supernatural machinery resident in old horror movies Del Toro's Orphanage truly stands out from the average, special effect ridden modern horrors that dominate our screens. Although the primary concern of this emotionally intense horror is to use the extra-mundane to terrify it's audience it is also an impassioned tale illustrating a mothers maternal fixation on the belief that there is a supernatural explanation for her sons disappearance. Rueda's excellent performance engages the
 audience in all of the emotional distress involved with grieving the loss of a child and the creepy occurrences in the house. This is especially apparent when Laura is confronted by a child, clothed in attire suited to a different time whilst sporting a disturbing cloth mask.

Sergio G. Sánchez remarked in a television interview “I think that our biggest challenge, was to do a movie that could be understood as a ghost story, and that you could also read as the descent into madness of a woman who just doesn't know how to cope with the disappearance of her son”.  With the admittedly intentional nod to to Henry James' literary work 'The Turn of the Screw' and director of the Orphanage, Guillermo Del Toro 's previous cinematic wonder, 'The devils backbone”  the film is sure to leave it's audience tense, un
easy and quivering in their seats.

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