Monday, 3 April 2017
I've Just Seen: The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (2007)
Gothic melancholy runs through the story of The Orphanage. Laura, as an adult, returns to the orphanage she attended as child before being adopted. She plans to re-open it as a home for disabled children, and one of the attendees will be her own child Simon. Simon is also adopted, and HIV positive, though he doesn't know about it. All of Laura's plans are put aside when the horrible history of this orphanage emerges, and Simon suddenly disappears.
It is hard to say anything about this film other than 'Go see it.' In a similar fashion to his friend del Toro's films, Bayona marries supernatural and real-world horror beautifully. The ghosts of the orphanage are unsettling with their cries for help, while Simon's disappearance is surely a parent's worst nightmare.The ghosts are also not evil, but are a link to Laura's past; something she must reconcile with her present. The ending is a shocking and deeply sad twist which I didn't see coming, yet makes complete sense, and is likely to prompt a second viewing.
The acting is great across the board, particularly Belen Rueda as Laura. It is also a joy to see Geraldine Chapin as the medium Aurora, who bears witness to the suffering souls still haunting the orphanage. I can't say much more other than thanks to SJHoneywell at 1001plus for pointing me towards this film; I would have seen it eventually, but his recommendation pushed it up the queue!