Review: The Orphanage [2007]

directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
A waft of the sea breeze comes in through your window while you sleep. You remember the memories of what it was like as a child to live here, happy and content. And the lighthouse outside your window no longer shines into your room.
I am not an all out fan of the Horror/Thriller Genre, especially with today’s crop of films from the mainstream wave. I like a good scare as much as the average person, that’s why I try to avoid it every chance I get.
But upon hearing of a project by a team of filmmakers that I avidly admire, I could not help but set my apprehensions aside.
The film revolves around a woman who has returned to the orphanage where she herself was taken care of. She has come with the hopes of turning the house into a home for her, her husband, son and other children which she hopes to adopt. Things take a turn when their son makes new friends [invisible friends] and subsequently disappears after fighting with his mother, during the opening party for the new children. And what follows for months is a draining search for their son.
During this search they take the council of doctors, paranormal experts and mediums. It is during the experience with the medium that they learn of their sons “friends” which may have not been make-believe after all.
The over all tone of the film is not what you would expect from the usual set of movies from this genre. Of course the whole film sets you up for different highs and lows for your emotions, delivering effective scares throughout. I found myself covering my eyes in most of the scary scenes, frightened at what the next frame holds.
But obviously this film is not your run of the mill horror show, complete with a full assortment of monsters. Though this film sports a very creepy child with a sack on his head, which most movie fans will be able to tie to the Scarecrow. Very limited in his actions and screen time but very effective, lingering in your mind long after the movie. The little details in this production set it apart from other movies in its genre. From the opening credits to the props and the nods to popular fantasy literature give the movie a character unseen in the genre and constant in the team’s production of films.
It is a breath of fresh air -even though most of the time you’ll be gasping for it. It IS a horror movie and it delivers, but what sets it apart is the story. It will -depending on your fright meter- scare you, and you will also be touched. Without a doubt.

Adios Carinio.