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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

photo_09-2.jpg The Orphanage (Picturehouse)  

If you have ever seen or met Guillermo Del Toro at the San Diego Comic-Con, then you know he's a filmmaker who is sincere about two things: championing the horror genre and helping young filmmakers. I was meeting up with Del Toro at the Comic-Con for an interview a few years back and was impressed by the fact that he took time to speak with filmmakers who came up to him after his panel. He also willingly accepted DVDs of their work. In fact, at one point he turned to his assistant and asked, in reference to the DVDs that had just been handed to him, "where are my treasures?" Now I've seen filmmakers toss the DVDs handed to them at the Comic-Con, but not Del Toro. And he apparently even watches them as well, although he says it may take some time before he gets to each. Now Del Toro shows his support for both horror and neophyte filmmakers by producing the feature debut of Spainish director J.A. Bayona and writer Sergio G. Snchez, El Orphanato/The Orphanage (opening January 4 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas).

If you are familiar with Del Toro's work then you can immediately see why he would be eager to support Bayona, Snchez and The Orphanage . Snchez' story has much in common with Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone . Both deal with orphan children and the supernatural in unexpected ways. Both Bayona and Snchez then approach this ghost story with the same kind of humanism as Del Toro. But The Orphanage does not come off as a Del Toro imitation. Bayona and Snchez imprint their own unique stamp on the film and reveal themselves as promising filmmakers.

January 19, 2008 at 11:55 AM
I had high hope for this movie after reading your review and others' but I must say all that did was raise my expectation to a level too high to reach. It's a very good atmospheric ghost movie but it's not nearly as good as Devil's Backbone or The Others. I supposed it's about as good as both versions of Dark Water (I like the remake enough to recommend it to some friends). -----

NoVaDJ from Alexandria, VA
March 08, 2008 at 08:02 AM
Hi Beth, I've jumped from the Cloverfield discussion to here actually by mistake, because I just watched this film and clicked on a review at RottenTomatoes and there you were and here I am. From reviews I had read a few months ago they made this movie out to be one of the scariest films in a long time, so I came into it with wanting to be scared, but as the film progressed that wasn't happening. I guess it was sort of like what you were expecting from Cloverfield, BUT, I stayed with the film and gave it a chance. It did remind me of a J Horror film in the slow deliberate pacing which bothers my friends but not me. I'm used to the J films and love them so I kept with this film and by the end found it to be more of a fairytale and very touching instead of scary. It took a few minutes to hit me after the credits started rolling. It's going to be a hard one to recommend to people because I'm sure the DVD ad campaigns will try to turn it into a horror film. I guess you could maybe call it a mystery fantasy?

Beth Accomando
March 09, 2008 at 03:20 AM
Hey NoVaDJ, Nice to see you somewhere besides Cloverfield! Yes I think it's a shame when a studio sets up false expectations with an ad campaign. In the case of the Orphanage, I tried to convey that it was more of an atmospheric ghost story rather than out and out horror. Like De Toro's Devil's Backbone, it is much more about ultimately getting the audience to sympathize with the ghosts. Glad you stuck with it. I think it's a well made film and as you said surprisingly touching. Thanks, Beth

Francisco Uribe from Mount Miguel
September 25, 2008 at 06:30 PM
I must say, this is a really good description of the film.It could really raise your espectations about the film if you havent seen it. The revierw gives you a really good atmosphere when you read it. In my personal oppinion I have seen the movie and the revie\w really desbribes it as it is, the movie is really touching and I think it has a good message. Plus I guess you could maybe call it a mystery fantasy movie

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