Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days of Horror: The Orphanage

2007, Juan Antonio Bayona  -- download

It must be obvious by now that I am a fan of Guillermo del Toro and the fact he produced this movie automatically gave me a positive view towards it.  Based on the conversations I have heard from him, his views on what makes a horror movie are much better defined than mine. I wish I had attended the "conversation with..." at the Bell Lightbox, for I could have added more knowledge to that repertoire. Still, this movie gives you so much insight into what horror can be, suspenseful, scary and beautiful all at the same time, much like his own work The Devil's Backbone.

Laura was brought up in an orphanage and was adopted in her adolescence.  Years later she returns to the structure to re-open it as a home for her husband & son, a son also adopted and HIV positive, and as a home for other ill children they will take care of.  Laura is not aware the place changed much after she left and is now haunted by events, memories and at least one vengeful ghost.

Simon is a sensitive child who has two imaginary friends and once he comes to this once-orphanage, starts to gather a few more. These ones are not so nice to Laura.  Maybe because Simon is also a little grumpy due to a faux-social worker revealing his adopted nature & illness to him.  And suddenly Simon disappears, not to be found again.

Waiting is the heart of suspense and the jump at the end is not always necessary.  Laura is searching for Simon and we are not sure he will be found.  She is also digging up the unfortunate past of her orphanage and learning some things that are the heart of horror, deaths and torture and things that make ghosts of children.  Artfully, the movie is not completely about the scare but more about what could be going on and how it affects Laura.  Still that little kid in the sack cloth mask is fucking creepy.