Wednesday’s What You Should Watch – The Orphanage
So I realize that Halloween has come and gone, so the season affection some might have for scary movies may have dissipated. However, I think there’s always a time for scary movies and winter time might be particularly good because it’s cold, you want to stay bundled up on the couch, and a scary movie that makes you cling to your blanket or another person is the perfect way to enjoy a cold day. Therefore, I’m giving you a recommendation that isn’t a horror movie by any means, but it’s a scary, creepy, and haunting movie that may have been overlooked by many because it’s in Spanish, lacks any number after it (it’s not Saw IXI or Final Destination XLM), and only made $7 million at the U.S. box office. I present to you, “The Orphanage.”
“The Orphanage” is a superbly well made mystery involving a woman, her son, and strange events that occur in the orphanage she and her husband have recently purchased. Although it’s rated R, there’s very little gore (except for a truly startling shot that I don’t assume will see coming) and it could pretty easily be a PG-13. What I’m trying to say is, you’re not watching “Hostel” you’re watching a GREAT ghost story. The film was produced by Guillermo Del Toro and has a lot of similarity to his film “The Devil’s Backbone“, which was also about an ancient haunted location.
There are a few things about the film that make it really effective. It’s got a great setting and much of the action takes place in and around the old orphanage. We see it in the opening shots of the film while it originally up and running, in great shots of children playing a game of hide and seek. The shot composition and lighting in this opening is fantastic. How the filmmaker’s use the game later on in the film is incredibly creepy and it shows that they really understand their story and their characters. The other great aspect of the film is its subtlety. It really allows the story to unfold without the use of “gotcha” moments. We journey with the main character to unlock the secrets of the orphanage and everything unfolds slowly, but with suspense, to create a really haunting story. Finally, as you will see at the end, everything that happens in the movie, happens for a reason. And not a silly stupid reason, but the ending makes sense because it’s completely plausible, involves its ghosts in just the right way and it doesn’t cheat the audience.
This film isn’t available on Netflix Instant but it’s well worth a DVD rental. Watch it with the lights off. Let yourself be sucked in and scared. Of course, an American remake is in the works and it’s totally unnecessary. So do yourself a favor and see the original film, which took a chance by trying to tell a simple, effective ghost story. See it now, don’t wait until next Halloween.