UAC Film — The Orphange

Story by Emily Gresbrink, Freelancer

A dear friend of mine once told me after watching “Paranormal Activity 2,” “The only thing that isn’t okay about horror movies is the children. Creepy children are not okay.”

Let us all take a moment and be grateful that my friend has not, and most likely will not, see “The Orphanage,” UAC’s campus film
for this weekend.

The 2007 Spanish horror flick produced by Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”) begins with Laura, an adopted woman now in her 30s, returning to the orphanage where she was once put into a family. She renovates the facility with her husband, Carlos, into an orphanage for disabled children.

Laura and Carlos’ adopted son, Simón, begins to tell his parents of a boy he can see — Tomás — who wears a burlap bag over his head and teaches him fun games. Eventually, at a party, Laura sees a little boy with the bag on his head — and interesting enough, it is the same day that Simon goes missing after threatening to run away with his invisible friends.

Six months pass, and Simón is still missing. During this time, nothing in the orphanage is normal — there is scratching in the walls, crashes, séances and discoveries of murder and death. Laura continues to look for her missing son, only to find him in a heartbreaking concluding scene.

I’m not going to lie, this movie sent chills up and down my spine. It wasn’t one of those movies that was fantastically full of blood and gore and “loud bangs that make you scream,” but more of a movie that made you really paranoid for a little while afterwards. It was a deeper kind of psychological fright, similar to movies like “Black Swan” or “American Psycho.”

And, perhaps most interesting about this movie, I found myself more concerned and sympathetic rather than afraid or disturbed.  I legitimately felt awful for Laura in the final moments of the movie. If I wasn’t so concerned about my blood pressure, I might’ve actually shed
a few tears.

The biggest element that stood out to me was the art and design in the film. The movie’s cinematography, which del Toro and director J.A. Bayona discussed at length, imitates 1970s Spanish film style. I’m fairly certain a majority of people haven’t really seen any Spanish cinema from the 1970s, but let me tell you — it’s a cool experience. It’s a visually magnetic film with one hell of a creepy house for the set.

As a heads up, you may get a little distracted by other elements — the entire movie is in Spanish with English subtitles. But there are moments where you can just stop reading the subtitles and enjoy the artistry.

In terms of acting, Belén Rueda is a heartbreaking knockout as Laura — the honesty of a mother going in to hysterics over losing her son (while living in a creepy house, nonetheless) is perfectly toned into a well-balanced performance.  Roger Príncep (Simón) and Montserrat Carulla (Benigna, a social worker) complete a trifecta or sympathy, innocence and paranoia — the exact recipe needed for a great psychological thriller.

So, my friend was right —  creepy children and the paranormal mixed together do indeed make for an uncomfortable mixture. However, don’t let it stop you from seeing “The Orphanage.” Grab some friends, head down to the Woodland Theater in Davies this Friday through Sunday (7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) for some awesome pre-Halloween chills.