I have a feeling that I’m going to get some heat for this review, but I guess it was bound to happen sometime. It seems like everyone loves The Orphanage and praise it as one of the scariest movies of 2007. Well, I must have watched a different movie, then. It was certainly well made, but the scares were few and far between leaving this film to be a mixed bag of a movie if there ever was one.
Laura (Belén Rueda) spent her childhood in an orphanage. As an adult, she has returned with he husband, Carlos (Fernando Cayo), and their adopted son, Simón (Roger Príncep) in order to open a home for special needs children. Simón spends his days with Laura, but always seems to have his min on his invisible friends, particularly Thomás. One day, Laura is confronted by Thomás, and Simón disappears without a trace. Laura begins to believe that Simón’s “invisible friends” had something to do with this, and heads down the supernatural rabbit hole in order to find her son and solve the mystery of the orphanage.
Before I even begin talking about the movie, the marketing campaign for this film really blows the big one. The trailer made it appear as if it were a flat out horror and the reviews were making claims that people would run out of the theatre in horror. I didn’t run out of my living room, but I did leave for a while, and not out of horror but boredom.
Ok, ok. That might have sounded a little harsh. The Orphanage is certainly not a bad movie. Far from it. The problem is that it didn’t really deliver on the level that I wanted it to. That being said, it was filmed beautifully, the acting is great, and the overall story is really intriguing. The plotting really made it feel like it was stuck in the mud and the scares were few and far between. Look at The Shining. Objectively long and slow, but there were plenty of unique scares that happened throughout the movie. The Orphanage offers, in my opinion, three memorable ones.
I will also admit that the entire story is horrific. Without giving too much away, there is a great twist at the end that forces the viewer to re-evaluate everything they have seen and add a whole new layer of drama to what is already there. This makes for complex storytelling that would have succeeded if the movie only had a little bit more to offer. Maybe it was how it was marketed or maybe I was just genuinely not too interested after a while. I have a feeling it might be a combination of the two, but I blame myself mostly.
My final consensus is that I was pretty disappointed with The Orphanage, especially after hearing nothing but good things about it. Sure, it’s very well crafted and acted, but there isn’t much depth when it comes to scares. The entire plot has a mortifying mood and conclusion, but there weren’t many particular frights that really grabbed my attention. Who knows? Maybe I just need to give it another watch. I can’t not recommend it because I certainly do respect it, but I can say that it didn’t really tickle my fancy too much.