As a child Laura was placed in an orphanage, cared for by its staff and calling its walls home. Now, thirty years later Laura is back, attempting to transform the forgotten mansion into yet again, an orphanage. However the house comes with a troubling past, one that even Laura is unaware of. As soon as they arrive the house quickly takes hold of Laura's son's imagination, transcending his imaginary friends into real life possibilities. Before long Laura is wrapped up in it too, sent on a desperate journey to discover the truth that has remained hidden within the walls of the orphanage for almost thirty years.
Produced by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro The Orphanage plays everything perfectly; mixing emotion with creepiness, hostility and uncertainty the film plays to the viewer's imagination, sucking them into a conclusion that will send chills down your spine as you discover that the truth has been before your very eyes all along.
The film's strongest point is that of its story. Tugging at your emotions the film demands the use of your imagination as it forces you to absorb the characters and the life that they lead. From Simon's first expedition into the caves to his sudden disappearance the truth is never obvious yet always present. Director Bayona does a brilliant job of capturing the emotions and aggression of Belen Rueda who is in almost every scene as the lead character Laura. Through the capture of her eyes and body language the viewers are able to grasp the intensity and anxiety that Laura is going through, creating yet another layer of thought provoking material to the stack. In short the story is intelligent, playing more mind games than anything else, and it really drives home an eerie tone that can only be conveyed through brilliant story telling.
Another good thing about the film is its cast. With no high profile actor on screen the audience is able to concentrate on the story and the up and coming talent in Belen Rueda. Conveying Laura's intensity and emotions is no easy task; however Rueda pulled it off flawlessly, creating the true spark that helped propel this film into greatness. Don't get me wrong though, a strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Fernando Cayo and Roger Princep helped round out the film and really give the audience something to look at.
All in all the film was great. Thriving on its story and its "˜creepy' feeling the film is easily marked as one of the creepiest, weirdest and ultimately devastating films in recent memory.