The Orphanage (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner20/03/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Superbly directed, genuinely creepy Spanish chiller with a strong script and a terrific central performance from Belen Rueda.

What's it all about?
Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, The Orphanage stars Belen Rueda as Laura, a woman who moves into the orphanage she grew up in, intending to open a school for handicapped children with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their young son, Simon (Roger Princep). Before long, Simon has made several new imaginary friends, none of whom seem to be very nice.

Soon afterwards, Simon mysteriously disappears without a trace, sending Laura into a panic. In desperation, she attempts to unlock the mysteries of the orphanage with the aid of a medium (Geraldine Chaplin) and a paranormal expert (Edgar Vivar).

The Good
Director Juan Antonio Bayona creates a genuinely creepy atmosphere, thanks to some judicious lighting, some expert sound editing and a series of superb locations – the orphanage is near the coast, allowing for some effectively tense cave exploration. He also orchestrates some terrifically suspenseful scenes (you can tell he's watched a lot of Hitchcock movies) and delivers several memorable shocks that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

Belen Rueda is terrific as Laura, in a performance that is deeply sympathetic and genuinely moving, while there's strong support from Roger Princep (a gifted child actor) and a delightfully weird extended cameo from Chaplin. In addition, the script creates an intriguing mystery that completely draws you into the story, as well as delivering a powerfully emotional climax.

The Bad
That said, there is one wrong note in the middle of the film, with a scene that is unnecessarily gory and ridiculous to boot, which takes you out of the story for a moment.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Orphanage is a superbly made horror film that is both genuinely creepy and powerfully moving at the same time. It also marks first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Orphanage (15)
The Orphanage has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 28/07/2015 09:22

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films