Best ghost story since The Others: The Orphanage.Posted: September 19, 2012
I’m about to go play some Endless Ocean, for the first time in at least a year, because I actually have three days off work, before I start my new work schedule, now that my training at the new hotel is complete, but I wanted to pop in to recommend this movie. (Pant, pant.)
Okay. Maybe I should slow down and back up a bit. (Though, now that I think about it, that pretty much covers the latest developments in my life.)
I admit, I’m a little frenzied right now, in a strange sort of way. I don’t seem to really know what to do with this unexpected mini-vacation. So far today I’ve watched a movie and caught up on my blog reading (again.) I expect to do a bunch of writing tomorrow and Friday. I’ve considered doing the deep cleaning that this apartment really needs (mostly hours of vacuuming, I fear) just so that I can start putting up my Halloween decorations. I want to cook, bake, read, luxuriate in hot baths, help my son study for his first college-level tests … oh, I want to do lots of things. As for the pending video game session? It’s just a way to convince myself that I can afford to waste a little time on something completely frivolous.
Before I do that, though, I have to rave about The Orphanage. (I don’t really do movie reviews in the classic sense. For a plot summary, etc. see the information at IMBD.) The Orphanage was produced by Guillermo del Toro, who directed Pan’s Labyrinth, (which was beautiful, but too sad for me.) The Orphanage is the horror movie I was hoping for (but didn’t fully experience) when I went to see The Woman in White. It’s subtle, creepy, atmospheric, and logical … it even has a satisfying ending.
The film is in Spanish, so I was dependent on the subtitles – which was a shame, because I suspect I missed some of the depth and richness in the lush cinematography. (I’ll be watching it again soon, so that I can pay more attention to the visuals.) Otherwise, I was pleased with the differences I noticed between it and the recent American horror films I’ve seen.
Immediately, I was struck by the very human loveliness of the lead actress, Belén Rueda. At one point in the movie she is asked how old she is. Her reply is 37. Amazingly, in the scene, she actually looks 37. Even more startling is the fact that she is allowed to grow almost haggard as the film progresses. I don’t mean that she starts to look sweaty, or that her clothes tatter, or that she looks mussed – I mean she looks like a woman who is spiraling into desperation. It was a refreshing change from the air-brushed perfection of most American actresses, especially in the horror genre, where everyone is either ancient and hideous, or 18.
This movie does not rely on special effects. There is some good makeup work, but it is not front and center. There is no gore. What we get, instead, is suspense and story. It feels like a real movie, which happens to be scary. This a great film to coax you into the spirit of the Halloween season.