Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona.
Written by Sergio G. Sánchez.
Starring Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo and Roger Príncep.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 1/6/08
After I watched "The Orphanage" yesterday
afternoon, I saw the trailer for this film (for the first time;
somehow, I had only heard about this through buzz) during an NFL
game. One critic proudly proclaimed that "The Orphanage" was
"Pan's Labyrinth." I chuckled, for a couple of different
a) "Pan's Labyrinth" was really, really
good. "The Orphanage" wasn't.
b) "The Orphanage" was produced by Guillermo del Toro, who actually
directed "Pan's Labyrinth." So, I guess in many ways, "The
Orphanage" really IS this year's "Pan's Labyrinth."
Here's what you should know about "The
Orphanage." In some ways, it is similar to a film that del
Toro did a few years ago called
Backbone." (That film is worth seeing.) Laura (Belén
Rueda) is the 37-year-old female guardian of an orphan named Simon
(Roger Príncep); along with Laura's husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo),
the family lives in a former orphanage that Laura was raised at, a
hulking monstrosity of a house where Laura currently works with
handicapped children. Simon has a habit of playing with
imaginary friends, so when Simon's newest creation (he calls him "Tomás")
wants to play treasure hunt with him, Laura gamely plays along.
However, after a brief spat on the morning of a party being held at
the house for Laura's current charges, Simon goes missing, and then
Laura starts to hear strange noises coming from the house and
windows start closing randomly and what looks like a fucking
poltergeist moves in, even though no one but Laura can see or hear
anything wrong. Spookiness ensues.
Save for a very violent scene in the middle
of the film (which earned the film its R rating here in the US),
this is a PG-13 "horror" film that has been done just as well--and
by that, I mean, poorly--by countless other filmmakers here already.
Rueda does her best to emit fear from every available orifice, but
ultimately, "The Orphanage" doesn't do anything particularly well,
outside of setting the mood. I'm still not sure why an
American indie theater chain such as Landmark would decide that "The
Orphanage" is worth adding to the lineup; it simply wasn't that
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard