“El Orfanato”: Review

I am not a horror’s movie fan but I’ve watched a few films from that genre. This week I stumbled across the 2007 Spanish horror movie El orfanato (The Orphanage), produced by the renowned Guillermo del Toro.

As I watched it, I had no real expectations. I figured it would be one of those stereotyped scary movies. The truth is that it wasn’t, which in my case, made me happy. It was more like a supernatural mystery. The film could be resumed as a mother searching for her son apparently kidnapped by dead children. There are a few moments which attempt to misguide you into thinking that something scary is going to happen but it doesn’t, so despite nothing insanely heart-stopping occurs, it keeps you on edge. Throughout the movie there are specific clues, both visual and in the dialogue, that once put back together helps us understand what truly happened. Maybe it’s because I studied film but those clues were well placed. From experience I know that even the visual object in the background can’t be there just because they look pretty and in this movie they played with them extremely well. Plotwise, the fact that what happened to Simon wasn’t really caused by the supernatural world but by an accident was refreshing. Usually the films belonging to this genre tend to blame supernatural or evil forces for all the bad things that happen. It’s reference to the story of Peter Pan, especially Wendy and the Lost Boys is subtle but brilliant. As the film progressed and came closer to the ending the imagery of the fantastic story became more clear. Again, every element is perfectly placed. For those of you that have seen the movie, you know what I mean.

Another attribute is the well-developed characters of Laura and Simon. Both Belén Rueda (Laura) and Roger Príncep (Simón) did excellent work and that alone says a lot coming from me. It’s just recently that I’m opening up to new actors, especially to those not belonging to Hollywood’s Star System. Until now these actors have captured my attention. Sadly I can’t say the same for the rest of the cast. I won’t say it’s bad acting because I haven’t seen other works done by these actors but they feel as if they were silhouettes. Their characters have no real depth. Still it works out in the movie since the main focus is on Laura and the situation with the ghost children, as well as their little exposure on the film.

To conclude my review on El orfanato, the ending was a bit disappointing. In my opinion the closing scene should have been when Laura was telling the kids a story. The rest was just unnecessary. It seems as if the writers wanted to give the movie and the plot a possibility of something more which is not a bad intention. I would have done it differently though by closing in on the medallion that fell to the floor as Laura narrates the children a story.  Anyways, that is my opinion. If you haven’t seen it, watch it! If you have already, let me know what you think.


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