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Customer Review

48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated and Carefully Constructed Ghost Story..., April 25, 2008
This review is from: The Orphanage (DVD)
THE ORPHANAGE is the latest supernatural film from Spain which definitely has the feel of Guillermo del Toro's influence. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, based on the screenplay by Sergio Sanchez; the film is an enchanting, creative gothic horror film that follows the footsteps of "The Devil's Backbone", "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Others". Much like the aforementioned films, "The Orphanage" has a theme to it, it is not a fast-paced horror thriller with the usual clichés. The film is a clever, inspired production that gives a "nudge" towards our imagination. After all, our imagination and innocence gets lost when we grow up, corrupted by our own personal experiences.

Returning to her childhood home; a mysterious seaside orphanage, Laura (Belen Ruede) and her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) has plans to reopen the orphanage to help underprivileged children as well as those children with special handicap. They have an adopted son named Simon (Roger Pincep), who is also suffering from HIV and has quite a "posse" of imaginary friends. When strange incidents happen in their home, and Simon mysteriously disappears, Laura must confront the secrets of her past and the otherworldly secrets of the orphanage before it destroys everything that she cares for...

The Orphanage's plot is complex and intelligent, with a powerful script that grabs the viewer that may even give the feeling of a fable. The film has multiple themes as to what it is trying to say; such as listen to what children are telling you, interpretations of childhood and adulthood fears, and the danger of being stationary as time passes you by. The film is more of a mother's point of view of a certain fairy tale that takes a stab at our imagination and the things we take for granted. The film's execution is full of intrigue that is a welcome break from all the Asian horror remakes that Hollywood has bombarded us with. The proceedings have a creepy and eerie feel at times, dare I say also seductive?

The film is also emotionally driven and it does take its time for us to get to know the characters. Laura played by Belen Ruede is a mother bent on helping children, the actress definitely expresses the needed emotions in supporting its carefully constructed story. While the film may support a slight pacing issue, I can excuse this minor fault since this film is Juan Antonio Bayona's full length directorial debut. Laura is a mother very much in tuned to her emotions while her husband Carlos is more of the rational kind. Once Simon disappears, the film takes off into a more intense but curiously enchanting pace; as Laura searches and obsesses in finding her son. The introduction of resident psychic Aurora and the policewoman, Pilar adds more controversy on the plate, since they were obviously set to confuse Laura and the viewer's opinions. Just who is Aurora? Is she a real medium or is she a con artist?

It is very difficult to review "The Orphanage" without spoiling a lot of its effect. I believe I should stop here, before I say anything else. Suffice it to say that if you are expecting something scary on a very graphic scale or if you are expecting an experience that will give you non-stop visual chills, this film may not be for you. Don't get me wrong, the film does have its share of credible chills and shock value but it's the kind that stabs in your imagination. This type of feature will entangle you into its web and the more you're entangled, the better you'll enjoy it. The film is a genuine attempt in creeping you out more than scaring the pants out of you. It is a perfect execution of spirit world storytelling that leaves you an emotionally driven climax with a sensation of terror and disturbing comfort.

Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]

Video/Audio: 2.35 anamorphic widescreen. Clean and impressive transfer with accurate colors. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Spanish Language track is very powerful and clear. Subtitles are excellent.
Features: Making of/Make up effects/interviews/auditions/marketing spots
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Showing 1-10 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 26, 2008 6:19:45 AM PDT
Mike says:
I really liked this one. I re did my review fully on it a few days ago check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2008 9:24:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 6, 2008 12:16:18 PM PDT
Woopak says:
Thanks, Mike. I already checked your re-written review. You and Puzzle did excellent reviews of this film, somehow, I forgot to mention it on the review itself. (darn)I liked this one, granted, it was more creepy than scary but I liked it that way.
Take care, bro.

Posted on Apr 26, 2008 12:39:33 PM PDT
Dave. K says:
Hey woopak great review. Puzzle also did a review for this and both you guys gave it high marks. I'll check this out, but I'll wait for cable. While it does look good movies like this normally don't interest me and now that I put myself on a DVD spending limit I can't afford this right now and get the movies I want towards the end of may.

But I will be checking this out.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2008 1:07:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 26, 2008 1:10:30 PM PDT
Woopak says:
Hey, Dave. I liked this film but I quite understand, I too put myself on a spending limit because I've spent too much money on movies since March. Anyway, I expect to slow down in June since I've already ordered most of the Asian films I want to see; horror, action, fantasy, suspense etc.. I just wanted to review this since my draft is just sitting on my computer and review it while it's still fresh in my brain.
I just realized that I haven't reviewed a Hollywood flick since "Kill Bill" (3/19/2008)! it's just that the rental I've seen from Hollywood isn't review-worthy..LOL!
Take care, bro. I'll e-mail you tomorrow about you-know-what.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2008 1:42:03 PM PDT
Dave. K says:
My spending limit is only $150 from now until June, 3rd.

Odds are I'll go over it, but no more than $20 though. I won't allow myself to go over too much. I know for a fact I'm going over. The DVDs I want up until June 3rd cost me about 145, and that's NOT counting sales tax. So no more than $20.

Not enough cash LOL and just as important no more room. I've been out of shelf room for months now. And its getting worse LOL.

The last non-horror review I did was I believe 10 Things I Hate About You, which was Jan. I think. I'm getting slightly bored with horror. May have to mix things up.

I'll keep an eye for your email tomorrow.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2008 3:50:43 PM PDT
D. Wilson says:
Probably not bored with horror Dave... it's just that after watching Inside, what do you follow it up with? Seriously?! I'm giving the Mist a look tonight so... we'll see? Great review here Woopak, probably check this on you, Mike, and PB's word. Talk to you fella's soon...

Posted on Apr 26, 2008 3:56:33 PM PDT
Whats up Pak? Nice review chief, Puzzlebox(I think) gave some pretty high praise for this one. I'll most likely check it out now. I'm just getting back home from being in jail. That s*** sucks! That s*** sucks bad!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2008 4:41:49 PM PDT
M. B Cole says:
Sounds like a rough weekend MM. Hopefully it didnt involve alkyhol.

Posted on Apr 26, 2008 4:43:27 PM PDT
M. B Cole says:
Nice review Pak. Cant wait to see this when I get back to the states. 5 weeks left!

Posted on Apr 26, 2008 5:35:20 PM PDT
A customer says:
Another well-written review. I can only aspire to your talent. Did you see my latest review of a Heston classic?
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