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The Orphanage (2007)

  Tags: Andrés Gertrúdix, Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, ghosts, Guillermo del Toro, haunted house, Juan Antonio Bayona, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Roger Príncep, spain, spanish, the orphanage

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Juan Antonio Bayona
100 minutes
Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Montserrat Carulla, Mabel Rivera, Andrés Gertrúdix, Roger Príncep

Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this marks Juan Antonio Bayona's feature film directorial debut, after apparently working as director of various music videos in his home country of Spain. Leave it to Spain to bring back an old school haunted house tale, which has seemingly been forgotten in this modern age of torture porn, needless sequels, and horrible remakes. This also makes the first film in years to actually give me a jolt while sitting in my seat, which is something that rarely ever happens since I'm pretty much used to all the old tricks from the genre. The great thing about this movie is that it doesn't rely on a large budget, special effects, or blood and guts to keep the viewers interested. This is just a simple ghost tale that, with good storytelling, actors, lighting, and directing, makes for an overall great and tense watch.

The film follows a woman named "Laura," who decides to purchase the old orphanage from which she once lived in while growing up as a little girl. While living in the orphanage she had many friends, who've since made her realize how much of an impact they've had on her life overtime. In what seemed like a good idea at the time turns into a nightmare, when their over-imaginative son makes a new invisible friend. It doesn't take long before the son turns up missing, leaving Laura in shambles, blaming herself for his disappearance. The only clue points to a strange elderly woman who visited their home days before the son's disappearance. Peculiar things begin to occur to Laura, leaving her to believe that maybe her believed-to-be-dead son or the children who once lived in the orphanage are trying to tell her something.

The movie relies heavily on atmosphere and storytelling, making many scenes fairly creepy. The part that got me only worked, because it came out of nowhere and was somewhat grotesque and shocking. Then you've also got a little kid going around in a creepy sack for a mask (gotta make me one of those for Halloween this year). This shouldn't come as a surprise, but the remake rights have already been purchased by New Line, who plans to move forward with the film whenever they secure a writer. I can pretty much guarantee that if a remake does happen that it'll be nowhere near as effective or creepy as this one. Hopefully director Juan Antonio Bayona sticks with the genre and delivers another solid effort. I'll be keeping my eyes out for his next venture.

The film's storytelling and atmosphere effectively brings back the once forgotten haunted house tale. Although the storyline was somewhat predictable, the delivery was still pulled off well. Worth a check if you're looking for a smart little creepy haunted house flick.

Posted on July 29, 2009 - 11:16pm | FrighT MasteR