Media Maven: “The Orphanage”

Media Maven: “The Orphanage”

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“The Orphanage”
Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep, MabelRivera, Montserrat Carulla

“The Orphanage” is the newest offering of film thrillers that is at once refreshing and enigmatic in its appeal. This is a foreign film with subtitles set in modern day. And it is as close as one can get to a good ghost story.

You probably will not recognize any of the famous European actors. Yet, each and every one gives a fine performance. Belen Rueda, who plays the lead, has been compared to American actress Maria Bello. I found her looking more like a younger Lindsey Wagner.

This story revolves around Belen as Laura, the wife of a physician. She and her husband are unable to conceive, so they adopt. The child is HIV positive but that does not affect their love and devotion for him. However, his vivid imagination and insistence on having imaginary friends is somewhat disturbing.

The film begins as a flashback showing Laura’s childhood as an orphan playing with the other children, at “The Orphanage.” Flash forward to the present and we see Laura and her husband Carlos with their son Simon moving into the old, abandoned building.

They plan to restore it, live there and open it as a group home for Down Syndrome children. If I give you any more details it will ruin the clever mazes and surprises this film provides. I’ll just say there is a haunted cave scene, a “noise in the night” scene and so much more.

I had a difficult time rating this film. Let me tell you why. My friend loved it for the very same reason it has become so popular. “The Orphanage” is a scary story that truly terrifies the audience without blood squirting, scantily clad demons or aliens with appendages clawing its victims. And that is the refreshing part of the story.

Even the prescreening theatergoers had mixed reactions. They either hated it or loved it. I appreciated the lack of gore and gruesome violence; yet, there was a part of me that just didn’t buy the story.

Alas, its popularity cannot be ignored. I attribute its mass appeal to the film milieu of European audiences. Perhaps they more readily embrace the innocence and the formula of a simple ghost story. Throughout the film, the audience was in suspended silence and trepidation. At other times, there was laughter as our heroine goes down a long hall in the dead of night – all by her lonesome.

But if you go, drop me a line. I would be very interested in hearing your opinion of this film.

Rating: Three Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.