(Manufacturer # 1000038376 )
Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro produces director Juan Antonio Bayona's gothic frightener about a long-abandoned orphanage with a particularly troubling past. As a child, young orphan Laura spent her formative years being cared for by the staff of a large orphanage located by the Spanish seaside. Those were some of the happiest years of Laura's life, and now, 30 years later, the former charge returns to the dilapidated institution with her husband, Carlos, and their seven-year-old son, Simon, to reopen the orphanage as a facility for disabled children. However, something ominous haunts the darkened hallways of this silent, stately manor. When Simon's behavior begins to grow increasingly bizarre and malicious, Laura and Carlos start to suspect that the mysterious surroundings have awoken something ominous in the young boy's imagination. It's not long before Laura, too, is drawn into this disturbing web and the repressed memories of the past come flooding back in a terrifying torrent of tension and deeply disturbing revelations. With opening day drawing near and their situation growing increasingly grim by the hour, Carlos attempts to write off Simon's bizarre behavior as a desperate bid to get more attention from his distracted parents. Laura isn't so easily convinced of this theory, though, and soon embarks on a desperate quest to unearth the terrible secret that lurks in the old house, waiting for just the right moment to inflict devastating damage on both her and her family. ~ Jason Buchanan, RoviMovie TypeMovie Level Themes
Haunted By the Past, Mothers and Sons, Ghosts, OrphansMovie Level Tones
- "When Laura Grew Up: Construction The Orphanage"
- "Tomas' Secret Room (the Filmmakers)"
- "Horror in the Unknown: Makeup Effects"
- Still galleries
- Rehearsal studio
- Marketing campaign
The Orphanage is an assured and promising feature debut from director Juan Antonio Bayona. Like executive producer Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone, it's a classically gothic character-driven ghost story about a woman (Belén Rueda) who attempts to reopen the orphanage where she was raised and gets distracted after her son is abducted by the spirits of her childhood friends. Bayona builds on the premise by drawing on a wide variety of fantasy/horror sources, including Peter Pan, Halloween, and Poltergeist (in an entertaining séance scene with Geraldine Chaplin as the medium). His fondness for cheap but effective scares doesn't get in the way of screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez's smart plotting, which emphasizes psychological twists over supernatural explanations. The Orphanage doesn't break new ground in horror films, but Bayona and Sánchez take familiar ghost-story ingredients -- from the lighthouse on the shore to dank cellars, shacks, and caves -- and refresh them with skillful storytelling and a sharp entertainer's knack for pleasing an audience. The Orphanage was featured in the 45th New York Film Festival. ~ Michael Buening, Rovi
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