Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: The Orphanage

        'The Orphanage': An Inventive Chilling Horror Film That Frightens In A Rather Intensely Subtle Way
                       We see plenty of horror films with a haunted house setting and a good amount of horror films that deal with scary children. But The Orphanage manages to mold them together while also successfully evading the use of special effects and guts spewing everywhere, allowing the creation of a film that offers something new to the horror genre as a whole.

                      The Orphanage is about a woman named Laura (Belen Rueda) who has an adopted son named Simon with a fatal disease and is looking to run an old orphanage that she once lived in and had handicapped children. However, when Simon makes a few mysterious imaginary friends, things to begin to make a turn for the worse once Simon goes missing and Laura is left on a frantic search for him as she delves into the supernatural.

                     What I Liked About It:
                    One thing that I really liked was how the film almost has a nostalgic vibe to it. It reminded me a bit of horror films from the 70's because of its score and setting in an old haunted house, and I really liked that because I am a sucker for older horror films. Another thing I really liked was the brilliant performance from Belen Rueda as Laura. She pulls off a great performance that doesn't resort to hysterics when she is upset or frightened, and isn't overly sympathetic either. It was neat to have such a great performance be a highlight of the film because very rarely in most horror films these days is there a whole lot of focus on acting.

                     I also liked how the film doesn't rely on jump scares or poorly CGI-ed ghosts to be scary, and make no mistake, this film is very scary. It has its fair share of suspenseful moments, but it is pretty chilling and is NOT bloody or gory, so that's a bonus. I don't usually mind blood and gore, I just hate it when they are both overdone. The film is even executive produced by Guillermo Del Toro, who gave us films like Hellboy and one of my personal favorites, Pan's Labyrinth. He, along with the director and writer, J.A. Bayona and Sergio Sanchez, have such a collaborative creative mind and create something rather inventive with not just the "haunted house" sub-genre, but the "creepy kid" sub-genre as well. However, there aren't necessarily creepy kids, per se, but there is one kid who wears a sack mask that would make The Burger King Man wet himself. If there is one scary scene that really sticks out in my mind, it is a scene where Laura is playing a special game with the creepy kids that involves her counting to three and knocking on the wall, and the camera moves back and forth to see whether the kids appear behind her after each time she knocks on the wall. It gave me the willies after I watched it.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:

                Overall, The Orphanage is a highly inventive yet chilling haunted house film that features a brilliant performance from its lead actress. If you are in the mood for a horror film that doesn't rely on special effects or blood and guts, then look no further than this film, as it quite a suspenseful ride that deserves 2 hours of your time.

Rating: 4.5/5

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