El Orfanato

I trust my husband, I do.

But when we start watching a film that is prefaced by a half dozen horror previews, my faith starts to quaver. I turned to him and said, “This isn’t a horror movie is it?” He knows full well that I do not like to be scared, horrified OR tickled. But Chad immediately brought up two points that settled me down: This movie was done (produced?) by Guillermo del Toro (who directed Pan’s Labyrinth, which I liked immensely) and it got a 7.8 rating on IMDb. Heck, I’d watch Two Girls, One Cup, if it got that high of ranking on IMDb (just kidding – for those of you who got that gross reference…)

Which means, I’m willing to swallow a little creepiness if it’s artfully done in Spanish.

And yes, although there was a scary image of a child wearing a scarecrow mask – it was a genuinely necessary part of the narrative. El Orfanato or The Orphanage is definitely a thriller and on the scary side, but the main focus of the  movie is how far a mother will go to to find a child she has lost.

The main  character, Laura, is exceedingly well-acted by Belen Rueda. She returns with her husband and son to the orphanage where she once lived before she was adopted, to start a small group home for disabled children. But before she is able to do this, her son becomes entangled in a relationship with the ghost of one of the orphans and disappears. The rest of the story plays out very suspensefully as Laura has to unravel what happened in the past shortly after she was adopted. The suspense is built mainly by absence rather than the explicitly horrifying  as is typical in American flicks of the same nature – the only gratuitous gore is when Benigna (a woman who is hanging around the orphanage) gets hit by a truck. Cover your eyes, it’s not worth it to see her chin hanging off her face.

But, in all, it was an intense way to spend an hour or two of my life. I give this movie an A-.

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