I used to be a huge horror movie fan as a kid. I loved scary movies. I even enjoyed some of the slasher stuff in the 80’s, like Friday the 13th and such. But as I, and the horror movie ideas, got older, I lost faith in them. I now prefer scary movies, not gore movies, like The Changeling with George C. Scott. That’s a great spooky ghost story. Go rent that.
The glut of torture horror that is so prevalent these days isn’t really scary, it’s just mean-spirited and gory. Ok, sure, I kind of liked the first Saw and Hostel movies, for what they were, but really, I got the message with the first ones. I sure as Hell don’t need a sequel; you’re just beating me over the head with a brick. It’s not like you don’t know what’s coming from scene to scene. You just sit there and wait for something gross to happen. Redeeming value? No.
You want a really good scary movie? One that has an intelligent, engaging, emotional story with real characters and also creeps you out and scares the crap out of you more than once; one that uses atmosphere and mood to freak you out? Go see The Orphanage!
This is an awesome movie. Juan Antonio Bayona does a great job directing on what I believe is his first feature. Not a huge surprise seeing as he is a long-time friend of Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), who was an executive producer on this film. Hey, we all know it pays to know someone, but in this case it’s a good thing for the audience.
The story is about a woman that returns to the old orphanage where she spent time as a child. She and her husband and son move into it so they can care for some children in need as well. Then her son meets some imaginary friends. Then things get spooky, to say the least. I won’t say too much here, because I really don’t want to risk giving anything away. You really should see it without too much information.
I don’t know where this was shot; perhaps Spain, but it’s gorgeous. It’s right by the ocean, with a lighthouse nearby. The orphanage is large and full of dark wood, and vast stairways and long halls with doors aplenty. It’s perfect for a ghost story like this.
There are lots of genuinely creepy moments – everything is superb; the music, the pacing, the acting. I haven’t jumped in my seat in a movie in years, but on at least three occasions I thought I was going to wet myself. Yeah, you heard me. The audience screamed each time and then we all had a laugh to dispel the tension.
The end is satisfying, too. The story is fulfilling in an emotional way and in a horror movie way. It is subtitled; but not in an overly wordy sense, so don’t worry about that if you’re one of those whiny people that doesn’t like foreign language films because they ask you to be literate. This is one of the best scary movies I’ve seen in years. Go see it. Really.
Ok, kids. See you in line for popcorn…unless you’re buying dinner later? No? Ok, thanks for nuthin’. ; )