Box Office - 01/01/2008
"THE ORPHANAGE is an effectively scary picture about guilt, retribution and acceptance, and it shares some of the spectral potency of Alejandro Amenabar's THE OTHERS."
Los Angeles Times - 12/28/2007
"In just a few minutes, Juan Antonio Bayona sets the tone of his eerie, atmospheric first feature....An unexpectedly poignant ghost story..."
Rolling Stone - 01/24/2008 3 stars out of 4 -- "A frightening movie that earns its scares the hard way, generating unbearable tension through artful technique instead of computer."
Total Film - 05/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "An unsettling yet refreshing thriller...it generates deep feeling while implicating you in its terrors and traumas..."
Empire - 04/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he story is riveted together by Belen Rueda's performance, a turn constantly on the brink of emotional collapse....The climax is an emotional wallop."
Sight and Sound - 04/01/2008
"This is a movie whose power and emotional pitch lie in the understated....A poignant film that looks to the past and the world beyond to illuminate the realities of the present."
Uncut - 05/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "THE ORPHANAGE -- produced by Del Toro -- delivers....The moments of horror are effective..."
It might come as no surprise that the producer of the Spanish supernatural thriller THE ORPHANAGE is none other than Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE), for his influence is felt greatly throughout the picture. Made by an entire crew of newcomers--director Juan Antonio Bayona, screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez, director of photography Oscar Faura, composer Fernando Velazquez--THE ORPHANAGE is an extremely accomplished work. The story concerns Laura (Belen Rueda), who has returned with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and adopted child Simon (Roger Princep) to the large manor where she was raised in an orphanage as a child. Laura is determined to fix up the abandoned house and open it as a refuge for ill children. But from the moment she returns, the past begins to haunt her. It isn't long before she begins to see the children who she used to play with as a seven-year-old. And when Simon goes missing one afternoon, she's convinced that they have taken him hostage. What follows is a murky descent into Laura's mind, where she doesn't know what is real and what is a figment of her tortured imagination.
Bayona brings Sanchez's complex script to life with the help of Faura's haunting imagery and Valazquez's atmospheric score. But what makes THE ORPHANAGE an even greater achievement is its insistence on being more than just a superficial scare-fest. Bayona and Sanchez are more interested in deeper themes of memory, loss, and grief, establishing Laura as a mother who feels guilt over not being able to protect her child from outside forces. The result is a film that is both unsettling and moving.
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