(aka "The Orphanage" )


directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
Spain 2007


Laura (Belén Rueda) buys the orphanage where she lived as a child in order to turn it into a home for handicapped children. Her son Simón (Roger Príncep) has already made some invisible friends including one named Tomas who likes to play a find the hidden treasure game. After a visit from mysterious social worker Benigna (Montserrat Carulla) who knows that Simón was adopted and is HIV positive, Simón goes missing. Laura's husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) is convinced that their son has been abducted but Laura becomes convinced that her son's imaginary friends might not be so imaginary and makes a gruesome discovery when she plays the hidden treasure game. A visit from a medium (Geraldine Chaplin) sheds more light on a past tragedy at the orphanage after Laura was adopted. Fearing for his wife's mental health, a skeptical Carlos decides they should leave the orphanage. Laura gets him to agree to let her stay two more days on her own to say goodbye to her memories. With her husband gone, Laura decides to play with the children in hopes of finding her missing son who she insists is still alive.

One of the string of ghost stories along the lines of THE OTHERS that makes full use of CGI enhancement, loud sound effects, home movie footage in place of flashbacks, surround rumbling, and digital manipulation of the color palette in the service of "subtlety." Great performances from Rueda and Cayo anchor the human drama but the supernatural element is tired and the tragic inciting event barely registers. Bayona's direction is fine and the cinematography fine (although its difficult to gauge how much is due to digital post-production manipulation). The film will surely please casual moviegoers but likely not people who were unimpressed with THE OTHERS.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 11 January 2008

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DVD Review: New Line Cinema - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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New Line Cinema

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:45:36

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Spanish DTS-6.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish 2.0 Stereo Surround
Subtitles English, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: New Line Cinema

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• When Laura Grew Up: Constructing the Orphanage (17:37)
• Tomas' Secret Room: The Filmmakers (10:17)
• Horror in the Unknown: Make-up Effects (9:22)
• Rehearsal Studio: Cast Auditions and Table Read (3:43)
• Still Gallery (cast, makeup effects, set design/locations, B&W photography, production, conceptual)
• Marketing Campaign (Spanish Teaser; Spanish Trailer; US Teaser; US Trailer; Posters)
• Pan's Labyrinth Teaser (0:33)
• Amusement Trailer (1:18)
• Sickhouse Trailer (1:04)
• One Missed Call Teaser [remake] (1:04)
• Otis Trailer (1:59)

DVD Release Date: 22 April 2008

Chapters 24



New Line provides the usual audio options for one of their prestige titles: DTS, 5.1 and 2.0 stereo surround and all are typically impressive. The dual-layered, progressive 2.35:1 image is fine as expected. Extras are typical press kit material (photo galleries are divided by subject, trailers and poster art fall under the heading of marketing campaign; the Tomas' Secret Room segments have their own separate intros so each could be dropped in when a TV program runs under) and quite comprehensive but will likely interest only those who liked the film.

Plenty of the comments by the filmmakers and cast about the emotional depth of the film and its characterizations are actually redundant in this case since that aspect of the film stands up on its own quite well.

 - Eric Cotenas

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New Line Cinema

Region 1 - NTSC



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