#168 -- The Orphanage (2007)

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Rating: 3 / 5

I bought this movie because I saw Guillermo del Toro's name plastered on it. He was the mind behind Pan's Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies, so I had pretty high hopes for this one. I know now, though, that del Toro only produced this, and it was his so called protege who directed. Knowing this, though, makes me feel better about the fact that I didn't love it. It was about a woman named Laura who grew up in an orphanage. She was adopted, and she didn't see the place again until she was in her late thirties with an adopted son of her own. I'm assuming her son, Simon, didn't come into the world under the greatest of circumstances, because he was HIV positive. Laura and her family moved into the old orphanage, and they planned to open it back up as a home for special needs children. Simon met some imaginary friends which, as viewers, you and I know were only imaginary to Laura and her husband. What he was really seeing were ghosts--the ghosts of the children Laura grew up with in the orphanage. One of the ghosts was Tomas, a deformed boy with a creepy burlap sack over his head. He kept to himself when he was at the orphanage with Laura, so she never realized that he'd been killed by some of the other kids, while they were playing a prank on him on the beach. Tomas' mother wasn't happy about this, and shortly after Laura was adopted, she poisoned all the other children. Simon told Laura about a game his new friends liked to play. They stole some treasure, and you had to find it by the clues they laid out. So when Simon disappeared, Laura had to play a very dark game of treasure hunt to find her son.

I liked the idea of the treasure hunt thing, but it just wasn't played out enough, I don't think. I also liked the burlap-sack kid; that was the one creepy thing going on here, but we didn't get to see him all that often either. I think those were just attempts to keep our attention for a minute, while the rest of the movie was kind of bland. I was hoping for a Pan's Labyrinth like feel, but it didn't give me that either. It didn't have comedy or gore to save it either. There was one little bit of gore, where Tomas' mother was hit by a bus, and it took her jaw almost completely off. Seeing her jaw hanging was gruesome enough, but before we saw that, we saw Laura's husband giving her mouth to mouth. How do you give mouth to mouth to a woman who barely has a mouth? In the end, it's an okay movie that didn't quite understand the concept of scaring people. I actually did like the ending, though. It ended on a beautiful yet sad note, and it worked. There really was no other way it could have ended. So it gets my three point rating because it was an okay movie. It could have been better, but it also could have been worse.

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