8 April 2010

Clarky's Review: The Orphanage

The Orphanage was my first ever choice at Horror Club, and to a certain extent I feel that it has been downhill ever since. This is inevitable I suppose, as in the first weeks of Horror Club we were all trying to out do each other (as we do every week) but we had more ammunition back then, more unknowns to other members of Horror Club and we wanted to start off with a bang.

And therefore I chose The Orphanage which was one of the best horrors I have ever seen at the cinema, and it had he added bonus of being unknown to my other horror club members at the time. A haunting, tragic, beautifully shot and genuinely scary film that will stay with you for days afterwards. Its not often a horror film does that to me, too often horror films are forgotten as quickly as they arrive, especially the modern Hollywood fare which no longer seem to contain a message of right or wrong, or have any hidden depth to them. It's little wonder then that The Orphanage is a Spanish film rather than a Hollywood blockbuster!

Stunningly shot by first time director Juan Antonia Bayona, every shot is teeming with gorgeous images and cinematography, and more than their fair share of them also provide a genuine jump out your seat scare. The story has supernatural elements to it, creepy old ladies, a seance and disfigured children. Its like a whats what of horror movie elements. However, at its heart, and successfully binding all these elements together, this is a very personal story about a mothers loss, and the emotional and psychological impact this has on her and her relationship with her husband.

You never know where you stand with this movie, and even at the end you will be unravelling different strands and replaying it over and over in your head. Whilst your head is swirling, your heart will also be hurting. As noted previously, the central story of a mothers loss is so horrific, and pulls you in so deep, that no matter what the supernatural elements are, the story feels grounded in reality. The central performance from Belen Rueda is also imperative to the films success. You become totally wrapped up in her search for her son, and increasingly desperate along with her. Everything she does seems justifiable and it is testament to her performance, and the directors assured handling and timing, that you follow her on her journey every step of the way.

The tri-fecta of the director, the engaging and moving storyline and this powerhouse performance results in a stunning film which, as noted at the beginning, is at once moving, gut wrenching, scary and beautiful.

This is a must see film, even if you're not a horror enthusiast. It's one of those rare beasts that stands up as a genuinely excellent film, which is also incredibly scary. I emplore more of you out there to go out and see this.


  1. Excellent review Clarky your passion for The Orphange is awesome.

  2. If you like spanish horror - have you seen Guillermo del Toro's (producer of the Orphange) Mexican/Spanish films Cronos, the Devil's backbone and Pan's Labyrinth. Not sure if they're scary enough for Horror Club but i liked them!

  3. Hi Kristen your the first person to comment other than the people that run the blog (Me Clarky and Ally) pretty sad I know but true. Cronos and the Devil's backbone are both excellent and I'm sure we will review them on here before long. Thanks for the comment

  4. Ha ha I'm proud to be the first non-horror club memeber to comment! I would also like to see a review of 'let the right one in' as that was my recommendation. Would be interested to see what you think of the hollywood re make also.

  5. At the end of this movie, my wife turned to me and while crying, yelled "This is supposed to be a fucking scary movie".

    That sums this movie up perfectly.

  6. I know. It is a scary movie but so much more. Incredible performances and an incredible portrayal of grief and loss.


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