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The Orphanage - Movie Review

Updated on August 28, 2011

The Orphanage (El Orfanato) is a Spanish psychological horror/thriller film by Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) about a couple that loses their son and the strange occurrences that happens around their house, an orphanage.

The trailer, in my opinion, does not do the movie justice as it paints it entirlely too 'horror' movie cliche; the movie, itself, is much deeper in terms of the bonds between the mother and child.

In a lot of ways, it's a dark version of Peter Pan.

The Plot

Aurora and Carlos have adopted a young child, Simon, from an orphanage but there are things that are special about the child - mainly his imaginary friends and shift toward his parents as the film progresses.

Things turn for the worst when Simon begins to interact with Thomas, one of his new imaginary friends. Unfortunately, Simon's interaction with Thomas leads to the beginning of when things turn for the worst - his disappearance.

The film progresses and characters develop as they search for the whereabouts of Simon but nothing seems truly right due to the strange noises, interactions and unveiling of a dark history behind the orphanage the family occupies.

The film culminates to a moment that is both shocking and heartwarming which many modern horror/thriller films have failed at - this is one movie that really pulls you, puts you on the edge of your seat and has you captured until the end.

My Thoughts

The Orphanage is a spectacular piece of film making at its finest. Bayona and Del Toro team up to bring their thrilling style of cinematography and control to the actors which pulls you deep into the story which goes perfect for the dark style of story telling throughout the film.

The movie, in a lot of ways, is like a dark version of Peter Pan (which is even referenced in the movie). Simon is like Peter Pan which brings Wendy (Aurora in this case) back to Neverland where all of them (Lost Boys) can live with one another. However, the dark plot and thriller-esque nature of the film doesn't exactly act out like the Disney classic, to say the least.

Final Verdict

Overall, I was deeply involved with this movie as it played out. I found myself drawn into the story and played along with the plot as it progressed trying to figure out the mystery behind the disappearance of Simon and how everything fit together.

I love psychological horror movies but this is less "jumpy" than many out there; it's slow but you have a sense of dread because it builds and builds toward a dark ending.

Final Verdict: Four stars out of Five.

Note: The movie is in Spanish so many people may never get around to viewing it but I highly recommend it and should be a part of any horror movie fanatics list.

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