1) It’s in Spanish.
2) It’s short-listed for an Oscar (Best Foreign Film).

Therefore: How the hell did it find its way to my town, much less opening weekend?

El Orfanato, better known as The Orphanage, is a Spanish psychological thriller. The previews make it out to be a horror movie, but it’s not gory (there’s a little blood, but not much), and the whole thing plays more as a thriller/mystery than a horror movie. There are scares, and they are pretty scary, but I don’t think they’re enough to classify it as horror. So anyway, I went to the first showing possible, afraid my theater might change their mind and ship it away again.

The Orphanage is about a woman, Laura, who was raised in an orphanage as a child and decides to move back there with her family to start the place back up again. But her son, Simón, who is also adopted and is HIV positive, makes a few new invisible friends, and soon after a strange social worker shows up to inquire about him, Simón goes missing. Laura starts to experience odd occurances and begins to wonder if the old orphanage is haunted and if the ghosts took her son away.

The movie really plays well going back and forth, making you wonder if there’s something supernatural going on, or if somebody has simply kidnapped her son and is messing with her. There are no cheesy special effects (I actually don’t think there were any special effects), and the movie was still able to be suspenseful and creepy/scary.

The acting, especially by the woman who plays Laura, is excellent. I can see why this movie was given an Oscar-nom. And by the time it’s over, you aren’t asking questions about potential plot holes or anything that didn’t make sense. Everything is explained perfectly, and I left perfectly satisfied. Well, except that there was a baby (complete with like… a freakin crib) in the theater; there were a lot of quiet moments in the movie, and the movie playing in the screen next to this one was insanely loud; and I guess my theater really isn’t used to foreign films, because for the first 5-10 minutes (until somebody told the staff), the projection was too low, so the subtitles were cut in half (luckily I can read words by only seeing the top half of letters).

All in all, it wasn’t as beautiful as Pan’s Labyrinth (though it’s only presented by Guillermo del Toro, not actually made by him… kinda like what Quentin Tarantino likes to do, except this movie was actually good unlike most that Tarantino likes to present *cough*Hostel*cough*), but it was beautiful in its own right. It was a completely different kind of movie. I give it a Royale with Cheese.

(P.S. I really think American directors need to go to foreign countries before making horror/thriller-type movies. These people know what they’re doing. 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle – British… it’s foreign to the US!), 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo – Spanish), Saw (James Wan & Leigh Whannell – Australian), Cube (Vincenzo Natali – French Canadian), and not to mention countless Asian Horror films).

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