Length: 105 minutes
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sanchez
Starring: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Roger Princep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Carmen Lopez
At the risk of over-hyping this film, I will make the following statement- this movie scared the living shit out of me. Now please don’t go into this movie with extremely high expectations based on that statement. I do have full confidence that it will deliver on my words, but you know how it is. Sometimes somebody tells you something is the second coming, you get hyped up for it and due to your raised expectations it doesn’t deliver like you expected it to. I just don’t see how that would be possible though. Seriously. I had read a few blurbs saying this was the scariest movie since “The Shining” and I laughed to myself. But, after watching “The Orphanage”, I have to say I agree with that statement. It is produced by Guillermo del Toro- the genius behind last year’s masterpiece, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the director of (the still unseen by me, but praised by my girlfriend) “The Devil’s Backbone”. The director- Juan Antonio Bayona- however, I am unfamiliar with. His Internet Movie Database profile has his prior experience as only music videos and a couple of shorts. Ditto the screenwriter, Sergio G. Sanchez. It is simply amazing that they could put out a debut this frightening and yet with so much heart in the end. Keep in mind this is a foreign movie, so you’ll have to put up with subtitles, but I beg you- even if you can’t stand subtitles and you’re a horror fan- take a chance. This movie puts all of that American Hollywood crud, like “The Ruins”, to shame. The movie centers around Laura (Belen Rueda) - a former orphan who has grown up and married a kind man (Fernando Cayo). They have adopted an HIV positive young boy named Simon (Roger Princep) and purchased Laura’s old orphanage. They have big plans of re-opening it and helping out underprivileged kids as a way of giving back. Though things with Simon start to seem a little weird. It is typical to have imaginary friends, but the ones that Simon has seem to shake things in Laura’s memory that she’s not too comfortable with. After a visit from an extremely creepy old lady (Geraldine Chaplin in one of the scariest performances EVER) who claims to be from social services, Simon tells his parents that he knows he is adopted and dying. He gets into an angry confrontation with his mother and disappears. I won’t divulge any more because I won’t risk spoiling any of the film for you. All I’ll say is that if you’re tired of being promised by all of these movies that are supposed to terrify you and barely give you a startle- then this is the movie for you. Be prepared to have nightmares.