The adopted mother of a young child returns to her childhood orphanage, where he tells her of his “new friends”. When he goes missing, she becomes convinced that he was abducted by the spirits of dead children.
This Spanish horror film is really more of a Gothic fantasy, as there is little in the way of frights or gore which is probably why Guillermo Del Toro put his name to it and the resulting hype brought it to the attention of the world media. The fact is, despite sharing themes with The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage has far more in common with The Others with a dash of Poltergeist thrown in. It lacks the originality and invention of Del Toro’s work and as a result feels much more generic. Belen Rueda puts in a strong performance as the grieving mother, it is nice to look at and I’d have to say it’s rather better than The Others, having a much stronger and more unexpected twist and a pleasing ending.
But anyone expecting something of the calibre of Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone will be disappointed.