Movies

The OrphanageThe ghosts of so many other arty supernatural Spanish-accented thrillers crowd the room in The Orphanage that you may feel at first like...The OrphanageMystery and Thriller, Drama, HorrorPT100MRThe ghosts of so many other arty supernatural Spanish-accented thrillers crowd the room in The Orphanage that you may feel at first like...2008-01-09Geraldine Chaplin
The Orphanage
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The Orphanage

Genre: Mystery and Thriller, Drama, Horror; Starring: Montserrat Carulla, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin; Director: Juan Antonio Bayona; Author: Sergio G. Sánchez; Runtime (in minutes): 100; MPAA Rating: R

The ghosts of so many other arty supernatural Spanish-accented thrillers crowd the room in The Orphanage that you may feel at first like you’re at a séance presided over by Guillermo del Toro. Don’t discount that sixth sense so quickly — this tale of maternal obsession from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez is indeed produced by del Toro, the Mexican spook-freak who made Pan’s Labyrinth and all that Hellboy jazz.

But don’t let memories of the others — and The Others — lull you, either. This clever, clue-strewing Peter Pan’s Labyrinth begins classically enough, when Laura (Belén Rueda), her husband, and their adopted son (Roger Príncep) move into a scenic old pile that was once the orphanage where Laura herself lived as a girl. The boy keeps saying he sees not-exactly-dead people. Then an ominous former housekeeper appears, the son goes missing, a medium is called in (the ever-fascinating Geraldine Chaplin), and Laura descends into a kind of telepathic madness on behalf of wronged children.

You’re either in the mood to go along with the puzzle pieces or you’re not. I’m not usually a puzzle-piece fan myself, not when it’s clear that the filmmaker rigs the moves. But I couldn’t help but fall for the repurposed real estate, and cheer for the lady strong enough to break through walls when she senses a child is waiting. B

Originally posted January 9 2008 — 12:00 AM EST

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