Directed by J.A. Bayona [Other horror films: N/A]
This Spanish flick (better known as The Orphanage) might be a lot better for fans of more emotional ghost stories as opposed to more horror-tinged tales, but it’s still quite well done with some fantastic mystery, an enjoyable back-story, and a memorable (if not potentially anticlimactic) conclusion.
El orfanato’s setting is great, taking place at an old orphanage on the seaside, overlooked by an old, defunct lighthouse. With the ocean constantly rustling and rainstorms no stranger to the area, it sets things up as rather dismal, which helps sustain the tone as the movie goes on.
So, onto a lot of Spanish names that I definitely don’t know.
As the lead, Belen Rueda did well and played a very sympathetic character, and despite the fact that she’s not really been in that many things before this (though she was in a TV series that ran for around five years called Periodistas, so she’s not a no one), she shined pretty much throughout the film. Fernando Cayo was good also, but I wish he was a bit more prevalent to the story than he ended up being. Others that I enjoyed include Geraldine Chapin, Edgar Vivar, Andres Gertudix, and Montserrat Carulla.
What really helped this movie along, because honestly, it’s not really my type of thing, is the mystery behind the disappearance of one of the characters. I like how that’s resolved, and though it took supernatural means for Rueda’s character to come to find out what happened, I was okay with it, as we discover some interesting (and somewhat morbid) things out along the way.
As decent as El orfanato is, it’s not the type of film I really go out of my way for. The conclusion didn’t quite pack the punch I was hoping for, though it was a tad more emotional than one might expect. Still, it’s definitely a well-made movie with an engaging plot, and certainly worth a watch, but if Spanish ghost movies aren’t your cup of tea, you may find this film a bit more average than others.
This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, go ahead.