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Quint visits a creepy little ORPHANAGE at Fantastic Fest and wants to tell ya' about it!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. You’re about to get really, really sick of me… if you aren’t already. The last few days I’ve been lost in two different worlds. In one I’ve been watching over 30 films, up to 5 a day, and in the other I’ve been digitally killing aliens and zombies in a suit of Spartan armor. Now I’m in the final stages of Fantastic Fest and I’ll be bombarding you with reviews, some of which I’ve had to hold because they’re films I’m judging for the AMD Next Wave competition for the fest. I have to say, I’ve seen a lot of strong films and a surprisingly high amount of them have come out of Spain. Case in point, THE ORPHANAGE which just screened as one of the AICN secret shows. We’ve been hearing strong word on this film from other festivals, including the constantly growing FrightFest in the UK. It’s also a film Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, which put it immediately on people’s radar. In tone, THE ORPHANAGE reminds me of a marriage between Alejandro Amenabar’s THE OTHERS and del Toro’s own THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE. It’s a confident, atmospheric tale about a woman who moves her family into an old home on the coast. She grew up there, an orphan, and has since held the desire to help other children the way she was helped as a child. She moves there to start up a small care center. Not another orphanage, but a home for children with disabilities. Her son has always had a big imagination, but something is off when they begin to settle in. His new imaginary friends are probably not all that imaginary. The flick is a debut feature film from Juan Antonio Bayona and like I said above, his direction is confident, sure and has a stylistic flourish, but is about as traditional as you can get. There is little to no computer effects, the shots are long and steady and the focus is on the characters and atmosphere. I’d call this film more a mystery than a horror flick, but it does have really scary moments and one particular creepy character, a kid in a scarecrow mask. He’s one I could easily see in a Neca toy line… maybe in conjunction with a Devil’s Backbone figure or something. How about that, Neca? A dead kid line? You can also throw in those little buggers that attack Roger in DAWN OF THE DEAD and maybe that creepy fucker outside the window in Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT. Sergio Sanchez’s writing is smart and the mystery isn’t overplayed. The only real complaint I have is that it takes a little too long for our main character, Laura (Belen Rueda) to start unraveling it. Without giving too much away, they set up how to unravel the mystery in the first act, but she doesn’t actually do it until the end. However, the middle is still strong. So often in these types of movies the middle is for nap time, but there’s a great POLTERGEISTish subplot involving paranormal investigators that is really tense. There’s also some really important development between Laura and her husband (Fernando Cayo) that really struck a chord with me. I dug the hell out of this film. I wish it was the standard. Intelligent, creepy, character and atmosphere driven horror. We don’t get enough of that these days. -Quint quint@aintitcool.com



Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 26, 2007, 9:59 p.m. CST

    first

    by Turd Furgeson

    could it be?

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 10:01 p.m. CST

    sounds cool

    by Turd Furgeson

    Do we know if this is going wide release and when?

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 10:31 p.m. CST

    IT'S A SHAME THEY'RE REMAKING THIS

    by THE KNIGHT

    Unbelievable. I'm shocked that Del Toro is supposodely involved in the New Line remake. Why not push this Theatrically in the states ala Pans? <p> sad.

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 10:50 p.m. CST

    Can't wait

    by TattooedBillionaire

    Any good horror film is a must for me. Thanks for the review; I'll be checking this one out the second I can.

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 11:21 p.m. CST

    Best film

    by Muldoon

    This is the best film I've seen all year! Kicked ass on so many different levels and is one of the few genre flicks that actually have you care about the characters, not just the gallons and gallons of blood.

  • Sept. 26, 2007, 11:40 p.m. CST

    Oh look... Quint likes this movie...

    by LordEnigma

    Shocking. You dislike Diary of the Dead but love this pandering fucking bullshit. WHICH NEEDS TO BE REMADE TO ELIMINATE THE PANDERING FUCKING BULLSHIT! Quint... shame on you. Shame. Yes; I am being silly Quint, but I had to post something! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Not So Much

    by VWantsRevenge

    I thought the film was terribly predictable. From the opening titles, which features children ripping wallpaper down and the intro of the standard "deformed" kid who was shunned and killed and guess what! Lives behind the walls in a basement away from the other children. <br> Wow, that hasn't been done a thousand times.<br> <br> And why make the outcast deformed? To be scarier? With the right tone, make up and CGI you can make normal ghosts scary enough without having to have one wear a potato sack over his deformed head. <br> To be fair, it could have been just me. I'm sick to death of ghost children. Ghost girls. Ghost boys. It's been done to death. <br> And said paranormal scene was tense, but when the chick said, "Sometimes when something bad happens it leaves a trace of itself. Like a scar" I wanted to get up and walk out. That's beyond cliche to me. <br> When the mother finds her missing son and the FIRST thing she says is "You're freezing", well, that pretty much means he's already dead even though it took another fifteen minutes for the film to alert us to that fact. <br> It wasn't scary to me. It wasn't involving and it didn't move me. Again, probably just me, since the audience of about 300 seemed to love it. I know at least one other person I talked to didn't like it. <br> And the big "OMG!" moment with the old lady getting hit... HELLO! She was on a street where the main characters had just been honked out to move, what the heck did everyone think was going to happen? The jolts just didn't work for me. I saw them coming to far in advance.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 1:40 a.m. CST

    actually the middle is usually

    by smackfu

    the best part of most horror films. The final act is always (at least in modern horror) where it gets revealed that the ghost or whatever really isn't evil, it just wants the person it's haunting to solve the mystery of it's murder. Which is also what is wrong with modern horror. I long for the days when a ghost in a horror film was actually *evil* and not just trying to lead Daphne and Thelma find where it's corpse is hidden.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 3:47 a.m. CST

    Oscar contender

    by bardieru

    This film has just been chosen today as Spain´s contender for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 4:06 a.m. CST

    Sounds Awesome

    by KillaKane

    Going to look out for this one...

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 6:33 a.m. CST

    I'm sick of hearing about Fantastic Fest

    by Trazadone

    Let's face it, most of these films will never come out and the few that do will go direct-to-video.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 6:34 a.m. CST

    So is there anything new in this movie?

    by TheNorthlander

    From the description - family moves into new house where there are ghosts and the kids get imaginary friends that are dead kids - I think I've seen that about a dussin times. Sure, those movies can be really good but what in this movie have I not seen already?

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Quint you stupid cunt

    by Allfather Starr

    The kids in Dawn of the Dead don't attack Roger, they attack Peter. Jesus H Fucking Christ, for a supposed Geek site this place is the fucking pits, you're as bad as Merrick. Or worse, that fucking good-for-nothing Monki. Him and his Stranglehold embarassment of an article. Fuck you all.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 7:22 a.m. CST

    TheNorthlander

    by BDT

    We watch horror films all the time, so did the writer of this one. Draws, admittedly from the classics and the best of the best, but sooooo artfully done that it really scared the heck out of me. And even though it was fairly "by the book" I had to keep watching to find out what happened. I haven't jumped or screamed this much at a film in a long, long time. Some of it has to do with the timing of the scares, and the anticipation of when they will come...that was very well done. Imagine "The Haunting" (original with Julie Harris) combined with "The Sixth Sense" and and interesting story within a well-made film. Bravo! I loved it!

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 8:18 a.m. CST

    Herr Star...

    by Gatsbys West Egg Omlet

    you are joking, right? are you really getting upset about a misnamed character in a zombie movie? <p> get a life.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 8:23 a.m. CST

    This year's Little Miss Sunshine!

    by screamster101

    You heard it here first.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 8:39 a.m. CST

    What's that I see in your hands Quint?

    by Series7

    OHHH its Del Toro's balls. Make sure to be gentle. I've only read one review on this site that seems to pull the curtain on this movie, some guy said that people were overhyping it here and its really just bland.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Also Fuck Little Miss Sunshine

    by Series7

    Mainly because Fox Searchlight sucks shit about getting movies into theaters. And they have had much better movies then Little Miss Sunshine. Especially this year.

  • Sept. 27, 2007, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Orphanage

    by Cobbio

    Thanks for the review, Quint. I'll now be checking out "The Orphanage" when it hits stateside.<p> Also, I agree with Series7: fuck "Little Miss Sunshine". I'm sick to death of that brainless quote. It's not funny anymore and hasn't been for months. Can we put a moratorium on it?

  • Sept. 29, 2007, 3:59 p.m. CST

    BDT

    by TheNorthlander

    Thanks, I'll check it out. haven't seen the original haunting, but I've heard it's supposed to be really good. We need more good horror.