31 Days of Horror: The Orphanage


The Orphanage (2007)

31days-orphangeSynopsis: Laura, a former orphan, returns to live in the old orphanage where she spent much of her youth in search of  a place where she and her husband Carlos can raise their adopted son Simon. At some point, they intend to reopen the orphanage, but not before their son begins to make friends with a mysterious, non-existent kid named Tomas who he draws with a sack over his head. During a party to celebrate the orphanage’s reopening, Simon disappears and Laura finally sees Tomas. Months later, Laura begins bringing in paranormal experts to uncover the mystery behind the orphanage and behind what happened to her son.

Killer Scene: Probably one of the most jarring scenes that I’ve seen in a very long time is the scene in which Laura is chasing the woman she believes to have abducted her son. She sees the woman walking along a snowy street, pushing a baby carriage. When she pursues her, the woman runs across the street and is obliterated by a truck. Fucking obliterated. On top of that, director J.A. Bayona takes it a step further by showing us what happened to the woman’s face as a result of the accident. It is the film’s only major kill scene and its most prolific jump-scare, and it works beautifully.


skulls-35Violence: As I mentioned with the killer scene above, there isn’t a lot of violence in this film. But when it does get violent, it gets very gruesome, very quickly. And it hits you almost out of nowhere. As well, there is the inference of violence that has already occurred at the orphanage, which is über-creepy.

skulls-0Sex: There isn’t anything sexy about this movie. It’s a story of family and tragedy and love, and there doesn’t have to be anything sexy about that, does there? But you’re right, a DP scene would have been a nice touch… Just kidding, this movie is perfect just the way it is.

skulls-3Scares: This incredibly well-crafted film doesn’t rush to get cheap thrills. It doesn’t pound away with a loud score or feel the need to place jump-scares around every corner. The simple, yet deeply terrifying plot spends time connecting you with Laura, making the major scares at the end well-earned.

Final Thoughts: It’s a slow burn, made for a crowd who doesn’t need to be constantly bombarded with visual stimuli, it’s made for those of us who need a movie that seeps deep into our subconscious, only emerging to crawl up our skin and tug on our heartstrings. It is that special kind of movie that is as much about love as it is tragedy. It is a wonderful example of atmosphere as character, in which J.A. Bayona constantly creeps us out without doing anything more than putting us inside this remote country house. I would argue that it’s one of the best horror movies of this decade. And I think that more than one of you out there would agree…

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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