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The Orphanage - Preview

The Orphanage

Preview by Jack Foley

FANS of Pan’s Labyrinth – one of the best foreign language films never to win an Oscar – had better keep an eye out for The Orphanage, which has been generating some serious buzz on the festival circuit.

Having first come to notice at Cannes, the film is among the most keenly anticipated of the Toronto Film Festival, always a useful indicator of which films could feature prominently come Oscar time.

Produced by – wait for it – Guillermo del Toro (of Pan’s Labyrinth/Hellboy fame) and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, the film draws on many of Del Toro’s signature themes – notably, the dream-life of children, strong but broken female characters and the modernization of gothic horror.

The story focuses on the goings-on at an abandoned orphanage that witnessed some evil doings during the Franco regime. One of the former residents, Laura (played by The Sea Inside‘s Belen Rueda), returns to the abandoned estate with her husband and sensitive son, whereupon the kid starts seeing and then playing with a group of malicious children who may or may not be in his imagination.

When he eventually disappears, Laura comes to suspect that these children were once a part of her life too and conducts a frantic search for the truth.

According to Diana Sanchez, writing on the Toronto Film Festival website: “Intelligent genre filmmaking requires perfect execution from all quarters and The Orphanage manages that, with a particular emphasis on performance. Rueda is incredible; her creepy obsessiveness gradually overcomes us. We begin to believe the impossible through her sheer force of will.”

And Time Magazine wrote: “There will be moments so tense, you’ll need to calm yourself by saying, ‘It’s only a movie!’”

Variety, meanwhile, stated that “the children just want to come out and play, and so do the very clever filmmakers running The Orphanage, a fastidiously grim ghost story that rattles the bones of the haunted-house genre and finds plenty of fresh (but not too bloody) meat”.

At present, there is no confirmed UK release date for the movie – so we wait with anticipation.