The Orphanage (2007) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Original Spanish Title: El Orfanato
Release Date: May 20, 2007
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Language: Spanish
Music by: Fernando Velázquez
Starring: Geraldine Chaplin, Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Montserrat Carulla, Mabel Rivera, Edgar Vivar

El Orfanato otherwise known as The Orphanage is a 2007 Spanish horror and fantasy drama film directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, produced by the Spanish production company Rodar y Rodar, co-produced by Telecinco and presented by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.

Starring Belén Rueda as Laura, a woman who returns to the orphanage where she stayed for a period as a child. She purchases the house, with plans to turn it into a home for disabled children. Everything seems to be going well for Laura, her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their son Simón (Roger Príncep).

Laura, with her physicist husband Carlos, returns to the orphan home  she  used to live as a child with plans of re-opening as a home for the sick and disabled children.

They adopted a son named Simón who is HIV-positive; unaware of  his adoption or his illness. Simón has imaginary friends and his mother is concerned that he is too old for them. He is frighten in his large, dark new home and Laura tells him that the invisible light from the lighthouse at the beach will protect him.

Laura explaining to Simón about Peter Pan

Simón reads the  story on Peter Pan. He asked Laura about Peter Pan and why Wendy couldn’t go back to Neverland when she grew up, and he makes the comment that he will grow up either, just like Peter and like his imaginary friends.

A mysterious social worker appears one day, talking obliquely of some new treatment for Simón and revealing to Laura that she has his old adoption file. Laura becomes angry at her intrusion with these hidden truths and sends her away, locking Simón’s file in a desk in the kitchen.

That night, after investigating some rattling noises she hears outside, Laura finds the mysterious social worker hiding in a shed. Though Laura screams for Carlos’ help, the woman escapes before anything else occurs. After they reported the incident, it is discovered that there is no social worker registered with the name Benigna, which the woman gave.

One day, Simón tells Laura about a game that Tomás has created for him, a type of scavenger hunt. They find something in a place where it’s not supposed to be, take it to its original place and find something else, and so on. Simón says that at the end they should find gold coins and that he will then get a wish.

The game leads them to the locked drawer where Simón’s file is hidden. Simón angrily reveals to Laura that he knows that she is not his real mother and that he is going to die. When she asks him how he knows that, he responds that his new friends told him.

Soon after, Laura hosts a party for the disabled children to welcome them to their new home. When she asks Simón to come down and join them, he first demands to show her where Tomás’ “small home” is.

After a brief argument, during which Laura angrily slaps Simón’s face in the heat of anger, she leaves Simón alone upstairs.

Tomás in the middle of the hallway

Back in the garden, she watches the children in play, all of them eerily wearing masks that Carlos is taking out of an old trunk. She and Carlos exchange looks as she nods upstairs, indicating that Simón is still in the house.

Laura (Belén Rueda) rushes to the beach as Carlos (Fernando Cayo) followed along

When Laura returns to check on Simón, she cannot find him but was confronted with a boy in sack mask with the name “Tomás” on his shirt. The boy trapped her inside the bathroom and ran away. Both Simón and Tomás disappeared and was led by trails inside the cave but none to be found.

Six months now, Laura and Carlos found Benigna with a baby carriage. When Laura called to her, Benigna was killed on the spot by a speeding bus.

Inside the carriage was only a doll with Tomás sack mask. The police starts investigating and looking for evidence on Benigna; they found Benigna used to work in an orphanage a long time ago and had a son by name of Tomás.

Tomás wore the mask because of his deformed features and was all alone in solitary room from other orphan children. However, Tomás was found dead not long after he drown himself near the beach cave.

Laura & Carlos consulting Aurora (Geraldine Chaplin)

Laura and Carlos seeks for a medium – Aurora for her son’s disappearance. Hints given to the medium Laura led her to the remains of the orphans she used to grew up with were murdered by Benigna where their remains were stored in sacks hidden within the coal storage.

In Carlos’ absence, Laura recreated the original orphanage layout in hopes to contact the ghostly children. She remembered playing “pili-pili”, so she tried playing and began to see them. The little ghosts led her to Tomás little house.

The sealed door leads to a hidden basement and she found Simón and hugged him but she soon realized that he is already dead because of the accidental locked-up door where he was playing and the unexplained noises she heard was Simón cries to get out.

She carries Simón’s body and begged to be with him again. Her wish is granted and the ghostly children appeared along with Simón. Noting that she and Simón are together again but together with the other ghostly children.

Carlos visits a memorial which bear Laura, Simón and the other children names outside the orphanage.

Author’s Note:
The Orphanage is the other version of Peter Pan. Dark and deep paranormal activity surrounding Simón and Laura. Almost everything happen coincidence and the clues to the puzzle reminds you of playing Silent Hill.

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