Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 4
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

HE’S GOT BE HERE SOMEWHERE!: Laura (Belen Rueda) is searching high and low in and around her house for her son Simon who has mysteriously and suddenly disappeared.

The Orphanage: Shades of Pan’s Labyrinth in Supernatural Suspense Film

A year ago Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical blend of surrealism and a World War II story, won three Academy Awards, plus nominations in the Foreign Film and Original Screenplay categories. Now, the film’s writer/director, Guillermo del Toro, has produced a horror film reminiscent of his earlier movie.

The Orphanage revolves around Laura (Belen Rueda), a woman with fond childhood memories of the seaside orphanage where she lived and grew up 30 years earlier. In the present, she is married to a doctor (Fernando Cayo) with whom she is raising an adopted son, Simon (Roger Princep).

The couple has decided to purchase the abandoned, run-down former orphanage with plans to turn the building into a home for sick children. However, soon after moving in, seven year-old Simon’s fantasizing, which he had always done to some degree, becomes greater as he starts talking to imaginary friends whom he claims he can actually see.

Laura supports the boy’s belief in the supernatural, sensing that some otherworldly spirits have invaded the old house when it was vacant. This causes tension between her and her husband Carlos, who doesn’t believe in ghosts. He is more inclined to think that Laura has become deranged.

This is the eerie beginning of The Orphanage, a film which marks the directorial debut of Juan Antonio Bayona. More suspenseful than scary, the movie is apt to disappoint anyone expecting to scream out-loud in the theater. Nonetheless, it’s effective at casting a supernatural pall over the movie which permeates the film until the very end.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated R for some disturbing content. In Spanish with subtitles. Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Picturehouse.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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