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The Orphanage: Prepare to be Afraid

Thank you, GiggleSugar, for writing this review because I'm too scared to see this movie I haven't, um, had the chance to see the movie yet.

The Spanish-language film The Orphanage is a classic ghost story. There are no fancy CGI effects, there’s very little gore, and it doesn’t knock you over the head every five minutes with a cheap scare. But make no mistake: This is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen — perhaps even the scariest.

Laura (the wonderful Belén Rueda) returns to the orphanage she grew up in to start a home for sick and disabled kids with her physician husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo). She soon finds that her seven-year-old son Simon (played by adorable Roger Princep) is not adjusting so well to their new gloomy home, which is an imposing, gray house by the sea.

Simon’s imaginary friends begin to proliferate and his communications with them grow uncomfortably non-make-believe. During a treasure-hunting game Simon's "friends" have set up for him, he finds a folder that reveals what his parents were planning to tell him later: that he is adopted and that he is HIV-positive. Simon’s parents try to reassure him, but after a fight with Laura, Simon disappears. There's much more to this eerie story, however, so

.

Months after Simon's disappearance, Laura enlists psychics to contact the spirits that she thinks are hiding the boy. After a terrifying séance in which a medium (played by a spooky Geraldine Chapman) reinforces her suspicions, Laura's weary husband insists that they move out. But she tells Carlos she wants to stay just for two more days — alone — to say goodbye. Here, the film gives itself over to Laura and her anguished quest for her son. Do ghosts in the house really have him? Is Laura actually being haunted by memories from her past? Is she mad? Or all of the above?

The Orphanage doesn’t reinvent the ghost story, it just does it really, really well. Whether it’s Laura walking down a dark staircase, a creepy child in an even creepier mask (see top photo) suddenly appearing where he shouldn’t be, or sounds that go bump in the night, the film delivers them all with maximum impact. But what sets it apart from merely scary films (and what it has in common with other great films in the ghost story genre like The Others) is that it gets you emotionally invested in the characters and understands that behind a good ghost story is a tale of human suffering and tragedy. Ghost stories tap into primal feelings: The dread we feel about the idea of the dead communicating with us is mixed with our desire for them to do so. The Orphanage plays with these two conflicting emotions to moving and terrifying effect. I was emotionally absorbed, and after watching this film, I also finally understood where the cliché “spine-tingling” comes from. Go see this—but don't go alone.

To see the trailer and more clips from The Orphanage check out movies.ivillage.com.

Photos courtesy of Picturehouse


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totonlaura totonlaura 8 years
OMG I'm so going to see this movie...
Calimie Calimie 8 years
I saw it a few weeks ago and I think the review is spot on. The best are the actors, the music, the ambient. The house is terribly scary as is Geraldine Chaplin (I think she won a prize for her part here). It is scary but the realistic elements are more scary than the ghost story (like in Pan's Labyrinth).
em1282 em1282 8 years
The trailer scared the bejeezus out of me, but I still want to see it. Perhaps when it comes out on DVD, with my entire family next to me, so people in the theatre won't be deafened by my "OH MY GOD!"'s and other screams. :)
wren1 wren1 8 years
I told my boyfriend we could see this sometime this week, but I'm pretty scared after reading your review!
Adrianne Adrianne 8 years
Hey Giggle, great review! I saw this movie last Friday and loved it! Perhaps the scariest moment for me was when adult Laura was playing the "1, 2, 3, knock on the wall" (?) game and all those children appeared out of nowhere...plus that scary music? Golly!
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 8 years
Thanks Giggle - I am definitely going to see this! Well if I can ever find out when the movie is released in Ireland! Google is not my friend today....:raspberry:
FashionParty FashionParty 8 years
This sounds like a good quality. I love an intelligently written scare film. I'm not in the mood for anything scary right now but this will be on my DVD list easily. Thanks for the heads up.
rachaelnexus rachaelnexus 8 years
I really loved that film, I saw it a couple months ago and we had a great time, it´s really scary and Belen Rueda does a good job.
angelinemarie angelinemarie 8 years
ohmy! i wanna see it.
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
acemonkey — Yeah, the movie is entirely in Spanish with English subtitles.
LuciLu LuciLu 8 years
eeeek, i think i will have to torture myself and see this one! (well if count "seeing it" through my hands over my eyes!
acemonkey acemonkey 8 years
It looks awesome. So is it subtitled? That's what I gather.
JennaV JennaV 8 years
Ditto what Fab said... I am SOOOO seeing this!
karisaamy karisaamy 8 years
I am there, I love a good scare!!
nancita nancita 8 years
Oooh I have been wanting to see this but now I simply MUST. Great review, Giggle. I was just saying how we haven't had a good scary movie in a long time. Sounds like this is it.
luv2blazy luv2blazy 8 years
I'm too scared to see this in the theatre. I'll wait for the dvd so I can pause it when I get really scared. Hey, it took me only 6 times to see Silence of the Lambs the whole way through.
Home Home 8 years
The trailer scared me, too anntorr! I jump and grab people at the slightest scary scene, so I'm probably going to leave bruise marks on my dude's leg when we go to see this. Hee hee.
anntorr anntorr 8 years
The trailer scared me, and your review kind of scared me too, not going to see this one because I like to sleep at night. Creepy kids in creepy masks... no thank you.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Great review, Giggle. I wasn't sure that I wanted to see this one after watching the preview clips in the theater last weekend. Now, I know that I really do want to go. Thanks.
LittleMascara LittleMascara 8 years
Erm, written well? Whatever... back to my DayQuil.
LittleMascara LittleMascara 8 years
Your review got me super excited for the movie. It was well written! Good job!
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