Tag Archives: guillermo del toro

The Shape of Water – Review

17 Dec

Anyone who’s read my reviews knows that I’m a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro. I recently reviewed one of his earlier films, The Devil’s Backbone, and gave it all the praise it rightfully deserves. What makes del Toro’s movies so excellent you might ask? It’s the way he uses fantasy and horror to show that sometimes the scariest parts of life aren’t the creatures we create, but humanity itself. It’s truly hard not to feel for the characters in his films or get lost in the sweeping cinematography or awe at his outstanding creature effects. Now we have The Shape of Water to add to his continuing filmography of magical fantasy pieces that hold a mirror up to the world. It’s everything you could possibly want with a movie written and directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute janitor at the Occam Aerospace Research Center. Her only friends are Zelda (Octavia Spencer), another janitor at the research center, and Giles (Richard Jenkins), a washed up artist struggling to get back on his feet. Elisa’s life completely changes one day when a new “asset” (Doug Jones) is brought to her work by the sadistic Col. Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), who makes it quite clear early on that he’s not a man that can be trusted or related to in any way. After some investigating, Elisa learns that the asset is a humanoid amphibian that’s capable of learning, understanding, and emotions. The two become very good friends, but Strickland’s intentions of killing the creature and dissecting it soon become clear. Elisa can’t allow that to happen, so with the help of Giles, Zelda, and an undercover Soviet scientist named Dmitri (Michael Stuhlbarg), rescues the Amphibian Man and brings him to Giles’ home until they can release him. As Elisa’s relationship to the Amphibian Man grows, Strickland’s mission to find him and kill him becomes more and more obsessive and dangerous.

There’s so much packed into this movie, it’s sort of hard to know where to start. The first thing that I really started picking up on was how strong the characters were. By strong, I mean they all felt real and had their own small quirks that made them all unique. Michael Shannon’s character was always biting down on the same green hard candy, Octavia Spencer’s character was constantly going on about her husband and how much her feet hurt, and Richard Jenkins’ character has his love for old film stars and anxiety about his hair. One of the main themes of this movie is togetherness and relationships, and seeing these rich characters’ personalities meshing and clashing added something really special to the movie and it made the idea of relationships feel solid.

While The Shape of Water is definitely about the power of relationships it also dives into the realm of political fears and conspiracies, accepting people’s differences, and understanding of the positives and negatives that shape our world. This really is a fully developed movie, but I’m always going to see The Shape of Water as a love story. It’s a story of romantic love, love between close friends, and also the dangers of the absence of love. Elisa may not have much, but the people around her all love her, even if it’s only her neighbor and a friend from work. Col. Strickland, on the other hand, has lost all connection with love of any kind. His family is the perfect nuclear family living in suburbia who still get excited whenever he walks in the door. To him that feeling is nonexistent and that clouds and darkens who he is as a human being and how he treats other humans, and in this case, humanoids.

This film is filled with some of my favorite performances of this year. Sally Hawkins is downright incredible as Elisa and she hardly speaks a word in this movie. She doesn’t even have to, and we all know exactly what she’s trying to say. Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are great side characters to Elisa and Doug Jones once again shows his talent with work like this. Michael Shannon is my favorite actor, and even I was surprised with how he treated his character. My only real complaint about this movie was some of the writing. The reason the government wants to dissect the Amphibian Man is because of space research? I can’t say I really see the connection and leaving it as open as possible might have been better than giving a vague reason why. It just seemed kind of like an afterthought in del Toro’s grand scheme.

The Shape of Water is one of Guillermo del Toro’s finest works. He’s created a unique love story that’s also filled with fantasy, espionage, comedy, and an often dark and sad examination of character. Some of the writing could have used a little more attention, but this is still a movie that’s making my brain work on overdrive. The characters and their performers were all top notch, the creature effects were brilliant, and the connections between all of the characters felt organic for better or for worse. The Shape of Water is truly an excellent movie.

Final Grade: A

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The Devil’s Backbone – Review

3 Oct

When I think of some of the best film makers working today, one of my go to names will always be Guillermo del Toro. At his most personal, his stories delve into the darkest of fantasies and bring them to life using real world consequences. We see this with films like Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak. On the flip side, del Toro can create spectacles for the big screen with a vision completely different from any other big budget film maker. Think of the two Hellboy films and Pacific Rim. With it being the beginning of that wonderful season of Halloween, I thought it would be a great time to check out one of del Toro’s most praised ghost stories, The Devil’s Backbone, from 2001. He’s stated that this film is a sort of cousin to Pan’s Labyrinth and it’s clear why. This is a sombre tale of war destroying people’s lives, while also offering a spooky ghost story and a message of strength that bursts through the sadness to offer hope. To put it simply, The Devil’s Backbone should be considered a modern classic.

Carlos (Fernando Tielve), an orphan who’s father was recently killed in the Spanish Civil War, is taken into an orphanage the wise Dr. Casares (Federico Luppi) and his fellow administrator and teacher for the kids, Carmen (Marisa Paredes). Upon arrive there, Carlos finds something very odd about the place, and it’s a something that’s quite obvious. There’s a bomb in the middle of the courtyard that landed and got lodged in the ground, but never detonated. He also hears stories from the kids there about an orphan named Santi (Junio Valverde), who mysteriously went missing when the bomb landed. One night, Carlos is out looking for water and comes across what seems to be the ghost of Santi who warns Carlos that many people are about to die. This apparition keeps appearing to Carlos, and it doesn’t take long for the other kids to believe him. Meanwhile, the groundskeeper, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), with the help of his friends begin scheming to rob the safe that Casares and Carmen have hidden in one of the buildings. As tensions rise between all parties, Santi’s warning of violence and death becomes an inevitability.

There’s so much to love with The Devil’s Backbone, it’s hard to find a place to start. Let’s go with the story. Guillermo del Toro is a master storyteller, and he works really well with telling these creepy tales through the innocent eyes of children. We see what Carlos sees and we know only what Carlos knows. There are only a few scenes where we are privileged enough to look behind the closed doors of the adults at this orphanage and see an establishment that is haunted by both the ghost of a young boy, but also crime, deception, and lust. While being a horror story and a drama and an allegory for war, The Devil’s Backbone has a strong mystery at its core. What’s the deal with the bomb in the middle of the courtyard? How did Santi really die? What does the warning of violence and death that Santi give mean? There’s so many questions asked during the slow burn of the plot that it had me riveted. I had to keep watching to find out more, and the payoff is quite literally explosive.

One of the most fun reasons to watch one of del Toro’s movies is his blending of genres and the fantastical with the brutal realities of life. The Devil’s Backbone is definitely a traditional ghost story at its core. A boy goes to an orphanage during a time of violence and is haunted by a ghost of one of its former residents. That may have been enough to support the movie, but it goes the extra mile. The humans in this movie often become creepier than the little ghost boy. The talks of the war and brutality that is happening in Spain is an ever present discussion by the adults in this movie that the kids can’t seem to comprehend. Jacinto also provides most of the actual horror in this film. He’s conniving and unpredictable and a true sociopath if I’ve ever seen one. Who’s stuck in the middle of all this? The children. They’re caught between the horrors of the real world and the people who inhabit it on one side and on the other the manifestation of the consequences of their actions. It’s not horror in the traditional sense, but it’s horror nonetheless.

Amidst all this terror is a film that’s shot beautifully. There’s something about Guillermo del Toro’s eye for things that isn’t extravagant, but it’s enough to hold your attention. It’s hard to explain, but he just has a way of showing just what needs to be shown in the exact way it needs to be. Can I get any more vague than that? Probably. Just give me the chance. The design of the ghost is also great, and it’s clear that he puts a lot of effort into creating his different specters and creatures for his movies because they always seem to stand out in some way. Santi is one of his greatest creations. He’s just a pale ghost that can be seen through, but what really makes it special is the trail of blood that comes out of his head and slithers through the air. Try to get that image out of your head. I dare you.

What else more can I say about The Devil’s Backbone? I absolutely loved this movie. It’s a haunting tale of ghosts, violence, and war but ultimately ends with a message of strength and bravery even for the most innocent of people. This is a film that masterfully blends gothic horror and the drama of the real world with the victims here being children. Sounds pretty heavy, right? It is and I respect del Toro for making a movie like this. He truly is a master and this is one of his greatest creations.

Final Grade: A+

Crimson Peak – Review

20 Oct

Has Guillermo del Toro ever done any wrong? Maybe just once, but he continues a streak of interesting and beautiful films with Crimson Peak. Let me just get something out of the way here. This film is nothing like what you may think it’s going to be based on the trailers and the other advertising done for it. What this film actually is is a Hammeresque fairy tale brought to you by one of the masters of the fantastical, Guillermo del Toro. Is Crimson Peak perfect? Absolutely not, in fact it’s one of this film makers weaker movies, but it’s still a good means of escape.

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As a young girl, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) was warned by the ghost of her mother, “Beware of Crimson Peak.” Some fourteen years later, Edith is all grown up and aspiring to be a writer of ghost stories. Her life starts going through a major change when she meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an English baronet who came to America to raise money for a new machine he has designed. After someone close to Edith dies under mysterious circumstances, she marries Sharpe and moves to his family’s mansion in England where he lives with his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Both of the Sharpes begin acting a lot differently to Edith once she arrives. Not only that, but she begins getting visited by ghosts in the night who suffer from all sorts of physical deformities. Obviously, not everything is what it seems which reminds Edith once again of he dead mother’s mysterious warning.

The closest movie in del Toro’s filmography that I can compare Crimson Peak to is Pan’s Labyrinth, although it’s not nearly as epic as del Toro’s masterpiece. Like I said, this film is not exactly what you or I would call a modern horror film. There are horror elements to the story, but this mostly feels like a Grimm fairy tale told through the lens of del Toro working for Hammer Studios. That’s kind of a stretch in terms of descriptions, but that’s just how I see this movie. Edith’s last name is Cushing for heaven’s sake. Anyway, if you go into this film expecting to see a horror film or ghost story like Sinister or Insidious, you may be sorely disappointed.

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I’d love to say that Crimson Peak is a flawless movie, but that simply is not true. There are some aspects of this movie that really began to put me asleep in my seat. For one thing, the first half hour or so is excruciatingly boring. I get that it’s set up for everything that’s about to happen, but Edith’s character isn’t really interesting enough to make this part of the movie really anything special. There’s also the manner with which the ghosts are used in this movie. First of all, there were far too many jump scares. This film doesn’t need these cheap tricks. It’s already creepy enough. The ghosts also didn’t do as much as they were maybe intended to do. I loved their designs and how they moved, but I just wish their role in the story was tweaked a little bit so they could show off how cool they were some more.

Now let’s move on to what was awesome. First of all, this is a beautiful film with the best use of color I’ve seen this this year. The beautiful colors and the gorgeous costume and set design only add to my theory more that this is meant to be seen as a fairy tale and not a horror movie. The acting in this film is all fine too. Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska work well together and both really look and act the parts that they are trying to play. The real scene stealer in this movie though is Jessica Chastain. I’ve seen her in a lot of movies, but this may be my favorite performance of hers. It’s a side of her acting that I’ve never really seen before and I was really impressed. Finally, the whole movie just has a magical tone to it where things seem to float on air in some instances and crumble before your eyes the next. It’s hard to explain but it’s easy to lose yourself in the beauty of Crimson Peak.

While the advertising for Crimson Peak really blows the big one, the film itself does not. That being said, it’s far from being Guillermo del Toro’s best work and may even be one of his weakest in terms of storytelling and pacing. The film does succeed, however, in providing some legitimately cool scares, creating a creepy yet startlingly beautiful atmosphere, and telling an archetypical fairy tale. While Crimson Peak is a mild disappointment, I certainly wouldn’t mind revisiting it sooner rather than later.

Cronos – Review

18 Nov

Guillermo del Toro is the man. That’s been firmly established with Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy movies, and Pacific Rim. There hasn’t been a film that del Toro made that I really haven’t liked, so I was more than ready to check out his debut film from 1993, Cronos. This is a vampire story with a kind of twist to the genre that only a film maker like del Toro could make, in fact I’m sure that he’s the only one who can make something like this. It’s an amazing debut film.

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Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi) is an antique’s dealer who mildly spends his days in his shop with his granddaughter who seems to never leave his side, Aurora (Tamara Shanath). Things change when he finds a mysterious device inside a statue of an archangel that latches itself to Gris’ hand so hard that it draws blood. This begins changing Gris into a much more invigorated man who has acquired an unquenchable thirst for blood. This draws the attention of the dying businessman Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) who sends his nephew Angel (Ron Perlman) to retrieve the device, but Jesús isn’t willing to give it up, especially after discovering what it really does.

Let me get this out of the way, if you’ve seen any other movie by Guillermo del Toro, you know pretty much what this movie is going to feel like. Think of Pan’s Labyrinth and how it mixed reality with fantasy in a way where it felt like a fairy tale is coming to life. That’s what Cronos ultimately is as well: a fairy tale. It’s also not a very overt fairy tale, which really makes the movie feel special. The word “vampire” is never even used in the movie once. It’s simply alluded to through the images that we see and the prior knowledge that we already have about vampires. It also recreates the myth of the vampire through the alchemical device inhabited by an insect.

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So, since there’s vampires in the story of Cronos, it’s pretty fair to label it as a horror movie. There are some pretty icky gore effects with the device digging into skin or flesh being peeled off of the body. Those scenes work very effectively at the body horror that del Toro does very well. Still, this is more than a horror movie because there is so much more to it than that. It’s a movie about dealing with age, facing death, and the importance of family. Gris’ family is close and a model of happiness while Angel is miserable being in the same family as Dieter. There’s also the paranoia of dying, but the reminder that death is the natural order of things and eternal life may not be so pleasant if the body can’t support itself.

I kinda wanted more out of Cronos since there was so much in there to love. Sadly, the story kind of begins and ends. I’m one to complain if a movie’s run time goes too long, but I was so into this one that I wasn’t ready for it to end. I felt like there was a lot more to be explored, especially when the resurrected Jesús comes home after escaping from his own cremation. There were a lot of places the film could’ve gone from there, but instead that’s when the movie begins moving towards the ending. The make up looked awesome at this part too, and the bond between Jesús and Aurora also got a lot more interesting at this point.

Guillermo del Toro said that the most important movies in a film maker’s life are their first film and their last film. His reasoning is that the first film sets the stage for what they will be making throughout their career and the last film is the one that closes the book on their work. Cronos perfectly set the stage for del Toro’s career, even though it’s a minor entry into his filmography. Vampires would come back to del Toro when he made Blade II, and his take on fantasy can be seen in almost all of his movies. This is a really beautiful and relatively quiet look at vampires and horror that may not have the most prestige or biggest budget, but is obviously superior to many other vampire movies being released now.

Pacific Rim – Review

2 Aug

Giant monsters. Equally giant robots. Guillermo del Toro. Ok, now we’re talkin’. From the trailer, you really know exactly what to expect with Pacific Rim, a movie that brings to mind Toho’s Godzilla movies of the past. Giant robots are really nothing new to movies. Just look at Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise (ok, on second thought maybe you shouldn’t). But, and this is important, del Toro takes this concept and makes it totally new. Instead of robots, they’re giant mech suits with people inside controlling it. I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’m just really excited about how excellent this movie was.

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In the not too distant future, an inter dimensional portal opens up at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in which giant monsters, called Kaiju, are climbing out of and wreaking havoc on cities across the globe. In response to this, the superpowers of the world come together and create a program where giant mech suits, called Jaegers, complete with two pilots who have merged their minds can walk into the path of the Kaiju and stop them. For years, this seems to work just fine, but it appears that the Kaiju are evolving and adapting to earth and its defenses, making the jobs of the Jaeger pilots more demanding and much more dangerous. As the pilots begin failing at an alarming rate, Commander Pentecost (Idris Elba) hatches an idea that may very well be the key to closing the portal and saving the earth.

Now, this movie is absolutely outstanding. It’s certainly not much of a captivating drama, but it sure is a lot of fun. The main protagonist isn’t anything interesting and his partner, played by Rinko Kikuchi, is pretty good, but still nothing too great. Idris Elba on the other hand has a really cool character who is very interesting. He has to be since his main job is “canceling the apocalypse.” Finally, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman are exactly the kind of comic relief that this movie needs, as the two scientists who are obsessed with unlocking the secrets of the Kaiju.

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I guess that wasn’t the first talking point you would expect me to start with. The question of the hour is: How were the Jaeger vs Kaiju fights? Excellent question, and the answer is that they were mind blowing. Like the whole movie itself, these fights had the potential to be garbage, but the way they are executed makes all the difference. First of all, the sound design and visual effects make it very easy to believe that these behemoths are actually throwing down right in front of you. That, and camera angles that are interesting and make the action easy to follow. Everything feels really big about this movie, and that’s important given the subject matter. Some camera angles are shown from the ground level while others are from the view of distant buildings. Let’s just say that these fights look about as epic as anything I’ve ever seen.

I will say that there are slow parts to the movie where the lack of strong characters and dialogue really shows. The way these scenes play out are entirely too predictable and the characters are pretty stock for the most part. Like I said, most of the main characters are nothing special, even as sort of “everyman” characters. A lot of the disagreements and drama seems a little underplayed, and don’t amount to anything too special. Kikuchi’s character at least has a nice back story that helps her dramatic scenes feel a bit more interesting.

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While the human drama doesn’t really feel all that spectacular, it is adequate. On the flip side, the colossal battles between machine and beast in the oceans and cities of the world are some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year. Like I said, Pacific Rim had the potential to be generic drivel and nothing too special save for some pretty scenes. Instead, Guillermo del Toro has created an awesome thrill ride that, in my opinion, gives Star Trek Into Darkness some competition for my favorite film of the year.

Blade Trilogy – Review

31 May

When the the company Marvel comes to mind, the first characters that come to mind are Spider Man, Iron Man, X Men, and Captain America. Those are prime examples of the Marvel universe, but we shouldn’t forget about the more minor characters, like Blade. Blade is a vampire hunter, who himself is a hybrid, who made his first appearance in the tenth issue of The Tomb of Dracula in 1973. Now, he is better known for the movie trilogy with Wesley Snipes as the title character. These are, for the most part, exciting films and a smaller, but fun part, of the larger Marvel movie collection.

Let’s start our reviews with 1998 film Blade.

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Blade (Wesley Snipes) and his partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) have spent their lives hunting vampires, a secret race of genetic mutants that feed on human blood. Their vampirism is described as a plague that must be wiped from the face of the earth. On one night, Blade comes across Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) as she is being attacked by the vampire Quinn (Donal Logue). He saves her and learns that Quinn’s leader of sorts, Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) has a plan to release an ancient vampire creature, La Magra, and use this entity to destroy the human race and create a society of vampires. This won’t be so easy with Blade, Whistler, and their reluctant new partner Karen hot on his tale and with plenty of motivation to stop him.

Blade is one of those movies where you have to know exactly what it is you’re going in to see. There isn’t much character development in this movie at all and the story could have been laid out a hell of  a lot smoother, but the movie really is a lot of fun. Part of this has to do with how much enjoyment the actors seem to be having. Snipes and Kristofferson both seem really into their roles and I immediately sided with them and their cause. The real scene stealer, however, is Stephen Dorff. He not only looks the part, but really dives into the whole persona of Frost and makes it his own. I feel like you can tell when actors really love their role, and this is one of those times.

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Blade also has great action, and a lot of it. When a vampire gets killed, it disintegrates into dust and bones, which looks really cool and remains that way for the entirety of the trilogy. There’s also gallons of blood to be seen in this movie, which is good because this is a movie about vampires. The narrative construction and character development may lack in a big way, but this film is a whole lot of bloody fun that makes me wonder what happened to cool vampires like the ones I’m seeing here. There’s no sparkling to be seen. Isn’t that incentive enough?

One of my favorite film makers, Guillermo Del Toro, would go on to make Blade II in 2002. This was a huge step forward for not only the series, but also for special effects and costume design.

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It seems like the last thing Blade would want to do ever is join forces with vampires. Well, unfortunately for him, that is exactly what he has to do. The vampire and human races are in danger when a new breed of vampire surfaces that feeds on both. These “reapers” pass on the virus to other vampires when they are fed on. Blade and Whistler, and their new partner Scud (Norman Reedus) are commissioned by the vampire overlord Eli Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann) to join a team of vampires called the Bloodpack to go out and hunt these reapers and take them all down, especially their leader and origin of the virus, Jared Nomak (Luke Goss). The Bloodpack was originally formed to hunt and kill Blade, so tensions are pushed which makes for a dangerous time for everyone involved, perhaps even more dangerous than the reapers.

I absolutely love everything about Blade II. This is one of the most fun action movies I have ever seen and it is shot so well. The story is an improvement from the first in terms of character development and complexity, but that’s only the beginning. The special effects and make up all look really fantastic. There are times when fights seamlessly become computer generated to show us angles and action that we otherwise would not have been able to see. The make up for the reapers also look outstanding, and appropriately fit in with any other monster in Del Toro’s films.

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Blade II continues the story and builds the universe of this trilogy very well and basically improves on the original in every way. Some of the make up seems to have inspired the creature design in the later Underworld films and the special effects add a new layer of awesomeness to the entire thing. The only thing that isn’t as good is the villain, but Dorff’s Deacon Frost is a tough act to follow. Blade II is a blast of a movie that shouldn’t be missed out on. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a movie in a long time.

Finally, the trilogy comes to a close with the 2004 film Blade: Trinity.

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A group of vampires led by Danica Talos (Parker Posley) finds a ziggurat tomb in the Syrian desert that is the resting place of Drake Dominic Purcell, better known as Dracula. Meanwhile, Blade is having a hard time with the FBI since they caught on to what he was doing, but believes he is a sociopath killing human beings. While dodging the FBI and other officers, Blade has to team up with vampire hunters Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Whistler’s daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel) in order to take down Dracula, who might be his greatest adversary yet.

What can I say about Blade: Trinity? Simply stating that it’s the weakest entry in the series would be an understatement. Not only is it the weakest entry in the trilogy, it’s a pretty dumb movie all together. This is hardly even a Blade movie since the film makers seem to be interested in his co-starts than they are about Blade, himself. Jessica Biel doesn’t really do anything of interest in the movie except look nice and Ryan Reynolds… ugh Ryan Reynolds. I have nothing against the guy as an actor, but his performance in Blade: Trinity was almost too much to handle. David S. Goyer, who wrote all three Blade films and directed this one, obviously forgot what the concept of comic relief really meant. Every snarky line of dialogue that Reynolds says feels out of placed, forced, and not funny.

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The action sequences are also really unremarkable and edited in a way that makes them feel slow and repetitive. The other Blade movies had editing which really made the viewer feel like they were in the middle of a hectic situation, and the fights in Blade II were choreographed by Donnie Yen, which is a plus there. In this film, they’re sloppy and slow. I can hardly call this a Blade movie. Even Wesley Snipes had major problems with it and stayed away from Goyer for most of the shoot. Bottom line, it doesn’t bring anything new or exciting, nor does it uphold what made the other movies so good. It’s a huge disappointment and I would recommend you stay away from this.

This trilogy is pretty cool for the most part. The original Blade is a welcoming start to the trilogy with a villain that steals the show. Blade II is one of the better action movies I have ever seen and I’m very excited to watch it again. Blade: Trinity is a stupid mess of a movie that I could have gone my entire life without seeing and been a better person for it. Two out of three movies aren’t bad and the first two shouldn’t be missed. Even though Marvel only produced the last film, Blade is still a Marvel character, making these pretty interesting pieces to the Marvel universe. If you ever find yourself in need of a break from Tony Stark, check out the Blade Trilogy, well… at least the first two.

The Orphanage – Review

25 Sep

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.