Monday, October 10, 2016

31 Days of Horror: EL ORFANATO (THE ORPHANAGE) (2007)

Welcome horror fans, to Day 10 of the 31 DAYS OF HORROR! We are back in our lead up to Halloween with a stellar foreign horror film...EL ORFANATO (THE ORPHANAGE). Enjoy!

El Orfanato is a 2007 Spanish horror film directed by J.A. Bayona and produced by Guillermo Del Toro. The film stars Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, and Roger Princep. The film follows a mother who, along with her husband and adopted son, is preparing to open an orphanage to care for children with various disabilities. Her son, Simón (Princep), disappears early on in the film and she seeks to find him as certain paranormal situations seem to be abound in the orphanage.

This film is simply phenomenal as a true horror film and is one of the most successful in the genre in recent memory. The film capitalizes primarily on brilliant direction by Bayona. The work he does with this film and how he develops chilling scares in ways lesser directors would utterly fail to achieve is spectacular to behold. The film doesn’t need blood or guts, cheap jump scares, or even tremendously disturbing imagery (although there is undoubtedly some of that in this film) to scare you. It builds a powerful atmosphere and a story with emotional depth that sucks in the viewer in an extremely powerful way such that your engagement with the horror of the situation is on a level not seen in other films.

Bayona capitalizes on everything in this film by having some of the most beautiful cinematography and shot design I have ever seen in a horror film. This film is stunning by any measure but has a particular feel that is distinctly of the style of directors from Northern Spain. It looks pristine on screen and makes everything in this film all the more effective.

Sergio G. Sanchez penned the script for this film and did so impeccably well. The film sets up a clear story and slowly peels back the layers as the film goes on such that when you reach the final conclusion you can help but be covered in literal goosebumps. The quality of development really succeeds in this matter and makes this film something extremely special.

Belén Rueda must also receive a good deal of credit for this film. Her performance in it is absolutely striking and heartbreaking. You feel everything in this film and it is in large part due to how good she is. I also thought that the performances were uniformly solid otherwise in this film. No one drops the ball and so many subtleties in their performances really highlight how powerful this story is.

There are very few negatives I have with this movie. There are some concepts that are underused and some plot conveniences that appear along the way but there is nothing truly damning to point out in this movie. It takes its promise and pushes you in all the right places to be great.

This is a phenomenal film that more people should see. It is really one of the best of the last 15 years in this genre and works like very few horror films manage to do. It takes some storytelling risks that all pay off and finds horror in situations audiences can empathize with making them dramatically more powerful as a viewer. J.A. Bayona made a brilliant film here and I, for one, cannot wait to see what he’ll do with his upcoming big ticket projects over the next couple years (A Monster Calls and Jurassic World 2).

Ryan’s Score: 9.5/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We’re posting a new horror review every day all throughout October, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we’ll have you covering your eyes from next!

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