A frightening movie that earns its scares the hard way, generating unbearable tension through artful technique instead of computer. First-time director Juan Antonio Bayona tackles the larger issues raised by the terrors of childhood. The fi lm begins at an orphanage in Spain where a seven-year-old girl plays unsettling games with other children, whom she forgets after she is adopted. Or does she? Jump ahead thirty years and the girl, Laura (the quietly devastating Belén Rueda), has returned to turn the place into a home for disabled children. That good vibe isn't shared by Laura's young son, Simón (Roger Princep), who starts playing with imaginary friends and . . . I'll say no more, except that The Orphanage is one of the best movie ghost stories. It will haunt you big-time.
From The Archives Issue 1044: January 24, 2008