Movie #41: The Orphanage

Guillermo Del Toro is becoming one of my favourite directors (and there’s an opening now that Shyamalan has moved to my bad books). I loved Hellboy II and Pan’s Labyrinth. While his 2007 film The Orphanage has more in common with his earlier ghost story, The Devil’s Backbone, than his more recent works, there’s no question that his fantastical style still permeates. This film tells the story of Laura, who returns to the old orphanage where she was raised in order to turn it into a boarding school for special needs children. Her own young son Simon also needs special care and medication to survive. When he starts talking to imaginary friends around the property, Laura grows concerned; and when he disappears, she desperately fears that the ghosts of the past may have bad intentions. One of the things I like about Del Toro’s horror movies is that even though they are chilling and creepy, they are not the gore-fests that others can be. Often the true malevolence turns out to come from the human characters rather than the otherworldly ones. (Still, you probably won’t look at a child’s game of “Freeze” quite the same way again.) This movie successfully combines a ghost story with a missing-child thriller (two genres which keep viewers on the edge of their seats). Some reviews like to comment on the ending (which I won’t spoil). It’s not entirely unpredictable, but neatly-tied nonetheless. All in all, this is a more sophisticated horror/thriller that I really enjoyed. (4 out of 5)

9 more to go!

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