El Orfanato (aka The Orphanage)
I'd been looking forward to seeing El Orfanato for some time, so when I saw it for sale in Seville, Spain, on our recent trip there, I figured I should pick it up.
The story revolves around a woman and her husband who have bought an old former orphanage, where the wife was once a resident, to live there with their young son and a few foster kids who need special attention.
Before long, though, the son seems to be talking to ghosts who live in and around the grounds. Imaginary friends are all well and good, but things get serious when the boy disappears...
For a debut feature, El Orfanato is sterling and stirring stuff. The sets are wonderful, the colour palette evocative, and the acting compelling, with lead actress Belén Rueda a standout. Director JA Bayona must surely be going places, not least with Guillermo del Toro as something of a mentor.
While "horror" means different things to different people, I would consider this more of a chiller/thriller than true horror. You might jump in your seat once or twice, yes, but you'll surely get some goosebumps and the creeps several times. And you might even be moved a bit.
This is the sort of film about which you can't say much for fear of ruining the experience, but it's a great movie that is worthy of several viewings, and undoubtedly a US remake will not be long in coming... I give this film 84 points out of 100.