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The Orphanage
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The Orphanage (2007)

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Plot Summary:
"Laura returns to the house where she was raised, and decides to transform it into an orphanage. Soon, her son, Simůn, makes an invisible friend."

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 28 April 2008 My Rating: out of 5


Guillermo del Toro who you might recognise as the genius behind Panís Labyrinth produced this old fashioned Spanish ghost story, and itís easily the best film Iíve seen so far this year.

The film stars Belen Rueda as Laura, a former occupant of the titular location who returns there years later along with her husband Carlos and son Simon with the intentions of re-opening it as a home for disabled children. Simon already has two imaginary friends but begins to speak of even more children hanging around the house who want to play games with him. When Simon disappears, it kick starts a chain of terrifying events that will force Laura to decide what she is willing to give up for her child.

Absolutely breathtaking from start to finish, El Orfanato is a stunningly vivid piece of filmmaking that encompasses brilliant performances, mise-en-scene, superb sound and effects work and a wonderful story, making it my film of the year.

From the gorgeous yet eerie Orphanage itself to the beautiful beach, every shot in this film, whether it is sunny or pitch dark, touching or menacing is absolutely gorgeous.

People have stated that the content itself is nothing new and this is true. However the film exceeds expectations and demonstrates how truly remarkable it is with the fresh presentation of such ideas.

There are some truly terrifying jump sequences here, the kind that make your whole body shiver and I was not the only audience member who jumped out of my seat. There are also some excellent gore sequences to be found here too.

Note perfect throughout, The Orphanage is a wonderful film that easily matches Panís Labyrinth on just about every level. This is what all films should aspire to be like. Forget Hollywood remakes of Asian spook fests; let the Spanish show you how itís done!

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