The Orphanage features a classic ghost story, but with a Spanish twist. It has that cool European look, high artistic values, something like Pan’s Labyrinth or others. It is so great that to see Italian, French and Spanish schools of horror evolving in different directions and building on the foundation set by some older directors like Argento and Fulci. As movies slowly started to become products and not works of art, the jump-scare started to dominate the world of horror. This audio/visual stimulus is rather cheap, equivalent to someone shouting boo suddenly. The Orphanage took a different route, banking on incredibly intense atmosphere and generally creepy vibe. When we have a defined villain and are counting on jump-scares, the feeling of dread is contained within those concepts. Here, dread is ever-present. It permeates the entire orphanage, kids who live there and anyone who appears in this cursed place.
Laura moves into her old orphanage, where she was brought up along with other orphans. Her son Simón will soon start to see ghosts and apparitions, but of course, nobody will believe him. Then, something will happen that will make everybody to believe him. With high production values and under Guillermo del Toro’s supervision, director Juan Antonio Bayona made one of the best Spanish horror movies. There are a couple of movies with a similar vibe: El laberinto del fauno, El Espinazo Del Diablo, Cronos and a bit wobbly Eskalofrío. Featuring a uniquely beautiful cinematography and almost perfect camera angles and movement, The Orphanage, along with the rest of these movies, is something that has to be seen to be believed. Even if you’re not a horror fan.
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Cast: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Edgar Vivar, Óscar Casas, Alejandro Camps
Fun Facts: Due to the cramped conditions for lighting, three caves were actually used for the location where Simon disappears.