Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, March 28, 2008

"The Orphanage"

I tend to avoid modern horror films, since the real world is scary enough. A multitude of good reviews, however, prompted me to go and see “The Orphanage/El Orfanato”, directed by Guillermo Del Toro protégé, J. A. Bayona, which I found extremely effective and affecting, dealing as it does with the real pain of believably drawn characters rather than the slicing-up of cardboard cut-outs. It makes good use of vintage staples such as the old, dark house, spooky children, and the creepy old lady (cf. Amenabar’s “The Others”), and is anchored by a superb central performance from Belen Rueda, as a woman who re-opens the orphanage where she grew up in order to deal with ghosts from the past, and finds them endangering her ostensibly happy family. There are several subtle shock moments, and only one instance of full-on gore; and whilst one does not emerge from the cinema bursting with joy, the story does have something of a redemptive theme, which is vaguely comforting. Apparently a Hollywood re-make is in the offing, but doubtless shorn of its Euro-exoticism and historical context (there are hints of dark goings on under Franco), it will be just another horror movie.


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