If you leave your couch today and venture out to some type of "store", that is, a place where perhaps they "sell" "DVDs", you'll be happy to know that The Orphanage is finally hitting shelves today.
Because I am a big lame, I missed the film during its brief theatrical run; it remained near the top of my "must see" list, though, and after all this time I must say...it was really worth the wait. If you like ghost stories that pack an emotional wallop and still manage to be unbelievably unnerving, then yeah- get off your couch today and check this one out.
Laura (Belen Rueda) was adopted out of her seaside orphanage as a young girl. Now grown, Laura has moved into the abandoned orphanage with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and her adopted son Simon (Roger Princep) with the intention of turning it into a home for special needs children.
Laura and Carlos are mildly concerned when Simon seems only interested in playing games with his imaginary friends; concern mounts to terror, however, when Simon disappears.
After nine months searching and not a single lead as to her child's whereabouts, Laura descends deeper and deeper into despair as she uncovers the terrible secrets hidden in the sprawling orphanage during her search.
The Orphanage is "presented by" and co-produced by Guillermo Del Toro, and it's definitely got a Del Toro vibe- if you like The Devil's Backbone, chances are you'll like this. It's genuinely scary in parts- several times I had that feeling...you know, like right when you're about to get goosebumps? Yeah. Very creepy. There's a lot more to the film than scares however (and it should be noted, none of them, to the best of my recollection, are cheap), namely story. As in, it actually has one that pulls you in, keeps you guessing, and manages to be extremely evocative. Gasp! I know, right? It's almost as if writer Sergio Sanchez and director JA Bayona worked the frights into the story so they happen organically, rather than appearing completely tacked on, obvious, and useless.
I can't say enough good things about Belen Rueda's performance, either. As Laura, it's her job to carry virtually the entire film and she does it incredibly well. Laura runs the gamut of emotions, from happiness to fear to just shy of maybe going a bit mad with grief- grief she won't allow herself to feel and instead turns it into determination- and it's a fantastic nuanced performance.
After the film finished, I was struck by the quality of the original horror content coming from Spain (this film, the aforementioned Devil's Backbone, the I haven't seen it but I can't wait and I hear great things [REC]) and likewise, from France (High Tension, Them, Inside) and it made me even sadder (than usual) that American horror seems to be stuck in the remake rut. Whether reworking Asian films or rehashing native shit, it's all been seen before. Where are the original voices?