The Orphanage (El Orfanato)
IMDB rate: 7,5
Starring: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep
As you might know, or perhaps not know, The Orphanage is another one of my favorite movies. Every time I watch it I see other details which is amazing. I can not get enough of this movie. I love the fairytale elements in it. It gives an effect to this movie that you would not expect. Maybe not the scariest of them all, but definitely a very impressive movie :).
When you watch the movie for the first time, you might not completely get it. It's certainly recommendable to watch it at least two times. The movie contains two story lines. And sometimes it's hard to focus on the both of them. Many things are happening in this movie, and while you might not notice each thing in the beginning, all the pieces will fall together in the end.
Laura, a former orphan, raises her adopted son Simon together with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. While at the orphanage Simon tells Laura that he has five invisible friends which she believes are a product of his active imagination. Laura decides to reopen the orphanage to cater for disabled children and throws a party. During the party Simon tries to persuade Laura to go and take a look at his friends cabin but she's too busy. Later on she sees a mysterious masked boy and realizes that Simon has also disappeared. Laura feels the presence of other people in the house and months later Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery.
I'm not sure if this movie can qualify as a horror movie. It has some ghost elements in it, but in the end I don't think many people find it a real horror movie. There are a few jump scares but not major ones. This movie contains the pretty scary but standard elements like bumping noises and scary kids with masks suddenly showing up, but at the same time it also contains modern touches, like a positive HIV test. In my opinion this movie digs a lot deeper in the story line than any other horror movie I know. Most horror movies have a pretty standard formula, and The Orphanage expanded that a lot in my opinion. The thing I liked the most about this movie was the Peter Pan elements in it. It was not the big line of the story but it was a nice small touch to it. This movie has a perfect combination between creepy and beautiful. Which seems to be a weird combination, but fits perfectly into this movie.
The acting in this movie is amazing. Belén Rueda plays the main character 'Laura', and not one moment you think her actings looks fake. While the movie contains many different elements, it all feels real. Another good acting performance was by Fernando Cayo, who plays Laura's husband Carlos and while he has not a big part in this movie, it's a real good performance. The little boy Simon is played by Roger Príncep, and he is really adorable, and for such a young kid, he's quite good in acting. I hope we'll see him again in other movies.
There are many beautiful symbolic moments in this movie. For example, at the beginning you see Carlos play all kinds of different songs on the piano, without hesitating a second. After the disappearance of Simon, he is sitting behind the piano, but he can't play anymore. I love how they well they pictured emptiness, without saying a word about it.
The Orphanages building is beautifully found, and however the interior is not actually filmed in it, you often see the exterior of the building. While it's an amazing building, it scary at the same time. It's huge but also old. When filmed inside the scary feeling becomes even stronger. It's funny that the right sound-mixing can make a 'simple' building scary. The atmosphere of this movie is very somber and that's what gives this movie it's strength. If the story didn't give you goosebumps yet, the atmosphere of the movie definitely will.
In these types of movies there is always something that doesn't fit in the puzzle. And I can understand people who don't like this movie because of the unfitting puzzle pieces. There are many different theories about these 'unfitting pieces' and while I agree with many of them, I don't want to dig deeper in a movie that I like. Personally I didn't mind it too much with this movie.
If you like ghosts movies, this is definitely the one to watch. Or perhaps, if you like puzzle movies. I've seen many reviews of people who don't like horror movies, but loved this one. I personally love this movie, and it's really one of my favorite movies ever.
My personal rate: 9,5/10