Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Orphanage

Goosebumps. You want a ghost story to give you Goosebumps. "The Orphanage" delivers them big time. In an era when "horror" movies are nothing more than torture porn or gory remakes, a film finally reminds us of how to be truly frightened at the movies.

Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, many are calling it this year's "Pan's Labyrinth". Nothing could be further from the truth. That's a marketing ploy that is unnecessary. "The Orphanage" is closer to Del Toro's film, "The Devil's Backbone" or another Spanish ghost story, "The Others". It scares you with atmosphere, implication and anticipation, rather than cheap shocks and gore. Although there is at least one "jump out of your seat" moment that was unnecessary but scary just the same.

The film stars Belen Rueda as Laura, an orphan herself who is adopted in the prologue and then returns to her orphanage 30 years later with her husband and young son, Simon. It is their intention to renovate the place and make it a home for special children.

Know that the film is in Spanish with English subtitles. To say anymore would be spoiling the experience but know that Ms. Rueda gives a tour de force performance as a woman unraveling when the past, literally, comes back to haunt her.

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