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The Orphanage

No secret stays locked away forever. 

Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona 
Starring: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Óscar Casas.  
An image from The Orphanage

The Orphanage is the latest film to be produced by Guillermo del Toro (the man behind Pan's Labyrinth and the future director of the Hobbit films). While similar to Pan's Labyrinth in many ways, it takes a darker turn resulting in one of the scariest films you're likely to see this year.

The Orphanage tells the story of Laura (Belén Rueda) who buys the abandoned orphanage where she had lived when she was young. She moves in with her husband, Carlos (Fernando Cayo), and their adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep) who is HIV-positive. Laura plans to refurbish the orphanage and reopen it as a home for other ill or disabled children like Simón. However, Simón has trouble making friends, spending all his time instead with an imaginary friend, another child called Tomás. Laura's concern for her son grows as strange things start happening in the orphanage. Things start to go missing, Simón knows things that he shouldn’t have been able to find out and a sinister child wearing a sack as a mask is seen in the house. Gradually events spiral out of control and the full horror of the orphanage's history is revealed.

The Orphanage is another masterpiece of Spanish cinema with spellbinding performances from the entire cast and a plot that will keep you riveted to your seat throughout the film.

Not only is the story itself magnificent but it is also one of the scariest films being shown this term. It avoids excessive amounts of gore in favour of scaring the audience with more traditional methods, which it does with great effect.

I cannot recommend this film enough as it is easily one of the best films of the year. A terrifying and yet compelling ghost story that will leave you checking in your wardrobe for small children in sack masks for weeks to come.

George Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Autumn Term (35mm)
2008/2009 Autumn Term (35mm)