Review of 'El orfanato (The Orphanage)'

the_orphanage.jpg Laura (Belén Rueda), her husband (Fernando Cayo) and their adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep) move into a big house which was formerly an orphanage where Laura was raised. Shortly after moving in Simón reports hearing and talking to children though this is dismissed as his active imagination. But then Benigna (Montserrat Carulla) an older lady pre-porting to be a social worker visits and is later found by Laura lurking about the grounds then fleeing into the night. Laura and her husband want to re-open the Orphanage to take care of disabled children but during the opening party Simón goes missing and Laura spots a child wearing a sack on his head just like Tomás (Óscar Casas), one of the children she remembers from when she stayed in the house as a child. What will Laura have to do to get Simón back? What games will she have to play? How far will she go?

Yes, this is a scary one though I would hesitate to call it really horror – There is no copious amounts of blood or even any great deal of violence but there are a lot of frights in the perfect setting: A large spooky wooden house with a back story featuring children that have gone missing. There is not really a lot of story here and the mystery is pretty much cleared up half way into the film but it does still manage to keep you watching as you never really know quite what shock is coming next though by the end of the film it is starting to drag and get a bit same-y but it does have one final surprise in store.

The cast do a great job, particularly the younger actors who really do evoke the innocence of childhood yet maintain a chilling air of mystery. With Guillermo del Toro as executive producer the quality and cinematography here is great. The sets and effects look amazing in a suitably Gothic style that is pretty much a trademark of del Toro (see El Laberinto del Fauno (Pans Labyrinth)).

Amazing looking and a good frighten-er!

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-09-24

Directed by: J.A. Boyana

Studio: Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos

Year: 2007

Length: 105 minutes

Genre: Horror