THE ORPHANAGE (Juan Antonio Bayona). 110 minutes. Subtitled. Rating: NNN
The longer I think about The Orphanage, the less I like it, even though I’m fond of its odd Spanish horror subgenre, the haunted orphanage movie. Laura (Belén Rueda) returns to her childhood home with her husband and their adopted HIV-positive son, Simón, planning to turn the house back into an orphanage.
But the ghosts of the children who were at the orphanage before have other plans.
It’s a mildly pleasurable film with a couple of memorable sequences, notably one where Simón follows his new imaginary friend into a seaside cave system.
Some films – the tasteful, in-between ones – fade from memory almost as soon as you leave the theatre, while good films and really bad ones hold a place in your memory.For a good haunted orphanage movie, seek out Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone or, if you can find it, Jaume Balagueró’s superbly atmospheric Fragile, which, though not actually set in an orphanage, has a great Calista Flockhart performance as well as spooky ghosts and kids in strange places.