September 19, 2007

Toronto. The Orphanage.

The Orphanage "Bolstered by a flawless lead performance by Belen Rueda, The Orphanage is out to chill your bones, to be sure, but there's also a great air of mystery (and a wonderfully welcome sense of poignancy) that elevates the film beyond that of a simple thriller," writes Cinematical's James Rocchi. "And while some of the themes and ideas may feel familiar to those who follow the 'south of the border' horror exports, there's more than enough originality and freshness to satisfy those fans... Half-drama and half-horror, The Orphanage is entirely captivating from start to finish."

"The Orphanage takes its characters to the deepest, darkest places imaginable and dares them to fight their way back," writes Jim Emerson. "There's a distinctively Spanish/Mexican sensibility at work here, in which the gruesome realities of loss and death and decay are acknowledged in the open, a part of life as it is lived, and there are no guarantees of a fairy-tale Happy Ending for anyone. That's because, as these cultures understand in their bones, the genuine, non-Disnified fairy tales don't necessarily have happy endings."

Updated.

"My hand remained over my mouth through most of this movie; a sure sign that I'm ready to stifle a scream," writes Michael Guillén. "Guillermo del Toro's executive production of The Orphanage lends winning pedigree to the project but the film survives quite on its own merits and through its own tonalities."

"As a scare machine, it's hard to beat: There are three or four shocks that had me bolt upright in my seat, and yet it still sustains a creepy ambience throughout," writes Scott Tobias at the AV Club.

But Ed Gonzalez, previewing the film as a New York Film Festival entry for Slant, is not boarding this bus: "When in Spain, do as Guillermo del Toro does. Or Victor Erice. Or Alejandro Amenábar. That is the modus operandi of the fetid The Orphanage, a haunted-house spooker that is all notations and no text."

Online listening tip. Cinematical's James Rocchi talks with Bayona.

Earlier: Reviews from Cannes.

Update: Nick Schager finds The Orphanage "little more than a nonsensical, frequently ludicrous version of The Others, a ghost story in which character motivation is haphazard and scares as scarce as narrative logic."



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Posted by dwhudson at September 19, 2007 12:46 AM

Comments

Ed Gonzalez from 'Slant' is completely OTM on 'The orphanage'. And there are not plot-holes, maybe he was just having a nap during some parts of the film. Nobody reclaiming the dissapeared kids? Erm, do you remember they were orphans? And the fact Simon being HIV-positive is not gratuitous – i.e. this makes him specially receptive to dead people's calls for help. Brilliant movie. Best of the year so far. Don't let Gonzalez misguide you, ok?

Posted by: Jason Glover at September 19, 2007 12:15 PM