THE ORPHANAGE (2007) Reviews and overview

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‘No secret stays locked away forever’

The Orphanage (original title: El Orfanato) is a 2007 Spanish horror film and the debut feature of Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona (Penny Dreadful [“Night Work”, “Séance”]; A Monster Calls). The movie stars Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo and Roger Príncep.


Laura returns to her childhood home, an orphanage. She plans to turn the house into a home for disabled children, however a problem arises when she and Carlos realise that Simón believes he has a masked friend named Tomás with whom he will run away. After an argument with Laura, Simón goes missing…


“The horror genre is one in which quality films are sadly scarce. The Orphanage destroys that trend. With an intelligent script, fantastic lead actors, and absolutely beautiful direction, The Orphanage is pretty much a perfect horror movie.” The Analytic Critic

“Bayona also manages to keep the audience interested in the storyline , which is not just an excuse for either some ‘scary goings-on’ or the advertisement of technical skill with a camera. The script is genuinely enticing and we become interested as to why young Simon has disappeared and what exactly happened at The Orphanage all those years ago.” Hot Dog Cinema

“The rare horror flick that’s as heartbreaking as it is terrifying, this supernatural thriller certainly makes the most of its titular setting, a gothic pile located on a desolate stretch of Spain’s Costa Verde; but it’s Belén Rueda’s outstanding performance as the missing child’s bereaved mother that really gives the film its lasting emotional wallop.” Dan Epstein, Rolling Stone

“Much influenced by Roman Polanski, Bayona displays a forensic eye for the creepy, unsettling atmosphere that wreathes itself around the domestic settings and everyday objects. With its elegant, atmospheric long takes and expressionistic use of colour, The Orphanage draws us inexorably into its haunted physical and mental spaces.” Time Out

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