13 Posts of Halloween: The Orphanage

Remember when I said earlier that there just weren’t many good supernatural horror movies being made? Well, there are a few exceptions, one of which is the 2007 masterpiece, The Orphanage.

It’s the story of a young couple who move into an old orphanage with their adopted son, Simon. It’s the same orphanage the woman lived in as a child, the same orphanage she plans to reopen as a home for disabled kids. Early on, Simon makes friends with an imaginary boy named Tomas. During a party, Simon suddenly disappears and she actually sees Tomas with her own eyes, a chilling figure with a burlap sack mask.

As the months go by, convinced her son is still alive, she calls in mediums and paranormal investigators to find clues to her son’s disappearance. Little by little, she learns of the orphanage’s history and the truth about the boy Tomas.

This film is incredibly creepy and moves along at slow, steady pace. There are no axe murderers, no elaborate torture puzzles to solve. Just an intense buildup to an ending that’s not only frightening, but heart-wrenchingly sad. I won’t drop any spoilers here, but this definitely lives on my list of must-see ghost stories. Wanna know how scary it is? I watched this for the first time on a plane. Surrounded by people. In the middle of the day. And it still scared me.

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Oh and did I mention it’s a Spanish production, with English subtitles? I know a lot of people are immediately put off by that, but honestly after a while you really don’t seem to notice. And while the dialogue is well-written, it’s not a particularly verbose film. It was produced by Guillermo del Toro, whose attachment helped secure a larger budget.

Unfortunately, New Line Cinema has secured the rights to make an American version. Seems studios still believe that U.S. audiences are too stupid or impatient to watch foreign films. I just hope The Orphanage doesn’t go the way of The Grudge or The Ring.