Friday, February 18, 2011

The Orphanage

So, in my recent crusade to upgrade from DVD to BluRay, I also acquired a copy of The Orphanage, another Spanish horror hit along the lines of The Devil's Backbone and simialr. For the longest time, I thought this was a Guillermo del Toro production, but turns out he's got little to do with this, except a producer role of some sort. Regardless, orphanages are prime real estate for scaryness, so let's get rolling. 

The Orphanage subscribes to the philosophy that incorporates larger themes than just the pure danger and fear, incorporating more, shall one say, adult fears and concerns into the mix. It's very refreshing when movies do that, because I get the distinct feeling that the filmmakers have a point to make, and as long as they're not blatant about it, I find it a-ok. This movie is about a woman named Laura who moves back into her childhood home, an orphanage, with the intention of starting it back up. In this old building and in the surrounding countryside, Laura's sick son gets a new invisible friend. So, as you might have guessed, here be ghosts, sorta-creepy but benign (?) ghost children, gotta love those.

Now, I'm actually a bit torn regarding what I think about this movie. The drama bits were very well done, with convincing acting and the pacing is fairly satisfying, however, it feels a bit like the movie can't quite make up it's mind if it's going for that whole horror vibe after all. Sure, there's a fairly creepy scene in which a s√©ance is held to try getting to the bottom of this whole brouhaha, but I get the distinct feeling that the horror doesn't quite... blossom, although it could be because the horror is somewhat more subdued. Then again, I've seen good subdued horror too, and I wasn't seeing it in this. Or maybe I'm not getting it, as it were,  it wouldn't be either the first or last time anything like that happened.

Still, this movie's popularity is kind of surprising to me. I mean, it's not bad, nonono, but it strikes me as one of these movies where I go in expecting Paranormal Activity crossed with Pan's Labyrinth, but got something more akin to The Changeling, but with a twist of supernatural (that is uncanny stuff, not the tv show... although I guess...) It's a bit of the same problem I had with Black Swan, although I liked that one better because it, on a certain level, the horror bits it had was better. Also, Natalie Portman was pretty damn good in that movie, but that's a topic for another blog.

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