Orphanage (2007)
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

Starring Belén Rueda Fernando Cayo Geraldine Chaplin Mabel Rivera

If it were not for the terrifying "The Abandoned," "The Orphanage" probably would have been the best ghost story to hit screens since "The Others." It shares a lot with that movie, also by a Spanish filmmaker, including haunted spirit-children and a female protagonist trying to unravel a haunting.

In this film, the stakes are high for the mother, played by Belen Rueda, who becomes concerned when her adopted HIV-positive son starts seeing imaginary children in the former orphanage she and her husband have just moved into. It just so happens that the mother was even a child resident there as a orphan herself. What are the odds of that happening?

The couple plan to open the orphanage as a home for disabled children. But things go disastrously wrong when their adopted son disappears. The mother is convinced she saw a child wearing a scarecrow mask – not unlike the one, it turns out, that was worn by a terribly deformed – and dead – child at the orphanage decades earlier. An earlier, strange visit by a woman claiming to be a social worker may also have had something to do with the boy's disappearance.

The mother's search for her adopted son has rational people (her husband, a social worker) pitted against the mystical (mediums). When she invites a medium to the home to investigate, recording devices and the medium's own trance-fed journey – an eerie seen shot in night-vision -- through the house are pretty conclusive: the boy's disappearance is linked to terrible events that happened in the orphanage 30 years ago. The place is definitely haunted.

While ghost stories have had a tendency to be boring in the past decade, usually giving us a familiar storyline where someone is haunted and needs to unravel a murder mystery to get to the bottom of the haunting ("What Lies Beneath," "Stir of Echoes," and other "cold case" hauntings), this film delivers a powerhouse ending that is much deeper than just the conclusion of an unsolved crime. Rueda's performance is what holds the film as her mother-and-son bond drives her to sacrifice everything to unite herself with her lost child.

In short, "The Orphanage" is a great movie, and a mature one, so it would be safe to take your mother to. Apparently an English-language remake is already in the works, although no remake could capture the emotional power of this film.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

USER COMMENTS

Posted by Becky on April 23, 2008
This movie was goods. I loved it and I liked the others too and now everyone thinks I'm dumb.


Posted by ManyAk on April 23, 2008
It was great and a LOT better than The Abandoned.


Posted by amber on August 10, 2008
i did not like it how are you sopose to be able to watch a movie and read the subtitles also i would rather see the remake in english when it comes out. it is just to hard to keep up with the movie and read the subtitles at the same time!!!!!


Posted by Crystal on October 13, 2008
One of the greatest ghost stories out there. I loved, loved, loved it. I always can guess the plot of most movies, but with Guillermo Del Toro I never have a clue. A must see movie.


Posted by Beavis on January 9, 2009
One of the top 10 horror films of the decade imo. Maybe even top 5. Definitely top 10 though, easily.


Posted by panopticon on October 7, 2009
Great film, loved it. I just had to say that "amber" is obviously so vehemently retarded he runs the risk of forgetting how to breathe.


Posted by Pariah on October 18, 2009
This one was really good. Incredibly sad though. :(


Posted by chi on July 4, 2013
This movie sucked so bad. It was highly predictable and very unoriginal. Had me bored to tears, this is not horror or suspense, its pure grabage.


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