Are the Latinos taking over from the Asians in the 'innovative horror' stakes? They have certainly surpassed them in the looks department, as the recent spat - The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth and now The Orphanage - are arguably the most beautiful-looking horror movies ever made. A ghost story for adults, The Orphanage centres on Laura (Rueda) who buys the orphanage she grew up in and moves her husband and adopted son Simon (Princep) in, with aims to reopen its doors for disabled children. However, Simon begins to communicate with an invisible friend, a boy who may or may not be the ghost of Tomas, a boy who lived at the orphanage with Laura when she was a child. Soon Simon (or is Tomas?) starts to act differently and when he goes missing and is presumed dead, Laura employs first the police and then a medium to get to the bottom of it. A slowest of slow burners, The Orphanage, like M. Night Shyamalan's movies, seems to be an exercise in mood - mixing horror and mystery to good effect (55 for mood, by the way). Bayona and his writer Sergio G. Sanchez delight in taking us down to the end of a road, freaking us out a little bit there, before taking us in another direction entirely. Trying to figure out where the movie is going and how it will end up is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without glancing at the picture on the box. Bayona remains patient throughout, secure in the knowledge that the payoff will reward the audience's tolerance of the fluctuating plot. Is the payoff worth it all? Not in this reviewer's opinion: but it was fun (and spooky) getting there, and sometimes that's all you need.
Watch: The Orphanage
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