Viewed – 13 September 2008 DVD
Now if you are one of those people that don’t do subtitled movies, haven’t the patience for reading as well as watching – then I pity you, as to be honest you are missing out on some of the finest forms of cinematic entertainment this small planet has to offer. This is just one brilliant example of foreign cinema’s countless delights.
With the watchful eye of current hot property Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy 2) and directed by newcomer J A Bayona this eerie, beautifully filmed ghost story follows a 30 something woman who along with her husband, buys the old orphanage where she spent her childhood so to renovate it and make it a home for disabled children. Then during an open day for the children and parents, her own adopted son Simon disappears. So begins a creepy mystery-drama with some chilling overtones and a wonderful central performance from Belen Rueda as the woman searching for answers not only to her son’s disappearance but also to her own past.
What helps make this not just your standard haunted house horror, is a really compelling story, gently told and with some great acting. The Orphanage itself is so well filmed that it becomes a character in its own right, and the atmosphere and tension are cranked up so effectively that when the frights do come – you’re almost knocked out of your seat. Add to this some wonderful orchestral music that adds to the emotion of the story and with a draining, powerful ending – this is easily another contender for film of the year. Stunning stuff.
Verdict: 5 /5