Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Delivers more goose bumps than anything Hollywood has served up in years – which I hope does not mean that Bayona, a first-time feature director and music video whiz, will be enlisted to direct "Saw V."
  2. 91
    Reaches truly terrifying heights as it becomes clear how possible the worst outcome can be. Like "Pan's Labyrinth," this is a movie about children made very much for adults.
  3. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    A great horror movie is like a good shrink--and a lot cheaper, too. It purges us through petrification. That horror movie, thankfully, has arrived. It's called The Orphanage," and it is seriously scary.
  4. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    90
    A fastidiously grim ghost story that rattles the bones of the haunted-house genre and finds plenty of fresh (but not too bloody) meat.
  5. Lures us in with extraordinary subtlety. Keeping sound effects and incidental music to a relative minimum, it builds its suspense almost subliminally. So when something scary or shocking does occur -- deprived of those Hollywood-style cues -- we are truly startled.
  6. 88
    Deliberately aimed at viewers with developed attention spans. It lingers to create atmosphere, a sense of place, a sympathy with the characters, instead of rushing into cheap thrills.
  7. 88
    The acting is uniformly superb, the camera work and set design are haunting, and The Orphanage delivers well-earned tears at its beautiful conclusion. Go see it already.
  8. By the end, you'll be chilled and disturbed by what you've seen -- and, rare as this is in a horror movie, touched to the heart.
  9. 83
    While some of the trappings and even some of the plot elements could easily be called unoriginal, Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez arrange them in a fresh way, crafting an emotionally resonant, nerve-jangling experience.
  10. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    80
    A good old-fashioned horror in the best possible way, this is a beautifully told, terrifying ghost story that lingers with you long after the shivers have stopped.
  11. 80
    You exit the cinema in a fever of melancholia, wondering how long it will take you to shed the sensation of alarm. The film is less of a shocker than an adventure in anxiety, testing and twisting some of the classic studies in infantile curiosity.
  12. 80
    Despite a few bloodcurdling shocks, this handsome Spanish ghost story from producer Guillermo del Toro follows in the suggestive, richly romantic tradition of the old Val Lewton chillers.
  13. As in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” The Orphanage relies on a risky blend of clinically realistic horrors and poetic suggestions of an alternate world, one that can be visited, but at a price.
  14. 75
    What distinguishes The Orphanage are some spare but fiendishly well-placed shocks that give the film an extra sense of danger: You can't take comfort with this one assuming you know what lurks around each corner, because you don't. Trust me.
  15. Bayona's moves are deft, the atmosphere oozes with anxiety and grief, but the big payoff - like the big payoff in The Sixth Sense, another film The Orphanage has more than a bit in common with - never comes.
  16. Though the movie has a handful of shots that are downright gross to witness, what makes The Orphanage scary is not what it threatens to show but what it suggests about life.
  17. 75
    The filmmakers know the tropes of spooky movies: Glowering shadows, squeaking playground equipment, eerie storms and half-glimpsed forms, but the film rests on Rueda's subtle, intense performance, rooted in every half-articulated anxiety that ever gnawed at a parent's brain.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    In a season filled with dark-themed films, it stands out as an elegantly mounted, surprisingly humane but terrifying horror thriller well worth seeing.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    The Orphanage gets by on mood and a mournfulness that's not easily soothed. Sadness and loss, it says, are the threads connecting the spirit world and our own, and women, who bring life into the world, understand that far better than men ever will.
  20. 75
    For those who enjoy ghost stories and are willing to be patient with a movie that gradually unveils its secrets rather than uncovering them all in an orgy of violence and terror, The Orphanage fills a need. The spell it casts early does not evaporate until the epilogue is finished.
  21. You're either in the mood to go along with the puzzle pieces or you're not. I'm not usually a puzzle-piece fan myself, not when it's clear that the filmmaker rigs the moves. But I couldn't help but fall for the repurposed real estate, and cheer for the lady strong enough to break through walls when she senses a child is waiting.
  22. In a genre that has been battered by the cheap grotesqueries of special effects, it is a pleasure to be unsettled by something as simple as an invasive beam of light in the shadows of a haunted house.
  23. 75
    As Laura, Rueda hits sublime notes of confusion, grief and wrath. She's sympathetic enough to make you root for her and complex enough to get you arguing afterward about whether Laura did anything to deserve all this.
  24. This Spanish supernatural thriller begins interestingly and finishes intriguingly. But what lies between drags because the film lacks a driving story line.
  25. 70
    The Orphanage is a careful, elegant work that looks a little rough around the edges; it was shot largely with natural light and employs minimal special effects.
  26. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    70
    There’s not really a bogeyman in The Orphanage and not much blood; just insane intensity and a building sense of bad vibes.
  27. An unexpectedly poignant ghost story.
  28. 70
    The Orphanage, a diverting, overwrought ghost story from Spain, relies on basic and durable horror movie techniques.
  29. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    63
    The Orphanage's joys come from the experiential: Bayona's cultured technical skills, including some phenomenal sound design, and sustained anxiety. It's about as healthy as junk food gets.
  30. 60
    It's worth a look, even taking into consideration the lack of zombies.
  31. You may see The Orphanage for what it is, an enjoyable contraption, without believing a bit of it.
  32. A combination ghost and shaggy dog story that is so well-made and acted you can nearly overlook its murky, unsatisfying ending.
  33. 50
    Ultimately the composition comes off as both overplayed and underdone.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 116 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 54
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 54
  3. Negative: 4 out of 54
  1. Sep 15, 2011
    8
    This movie was absolutely fantastic. The acting was top notch, the set ups for the scary parts was almost torture in how slow and meticulous it set everything up. It even had a couple jump scares that actually worked as well. The ending was also heart wrenching and overall
    satisfying. The problems I hear people having are that it's to slow and that it turns into a drama at the end rather then a horror movie. To me these complaints are just from people who probably like the slasher kill them all movies as opposed to horror movies that take their time and let you try to figure out what's happening and why. The ending again is very emotional and is very dramatic. If you like the slower paced movies then this is definitely worth checking out if you haven't you will not be disappointed.
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 26, 2013
    9
    I thought I'd like this. I never considered it to be one of the strongest horrors of the 21st century.

    Nowadays there seems to be a common
    trope in horror movies, consisting of quite noises then a 'BANG', then doing something then 'BANG'. The art of jump scares has really taken hold of our horror stories. This film does not use cheap scares, and it also doesn't waste it's story, characters or time in general.

    There is an emotional arc to this film.

    In a horror. I know.

    There is a sense of tragedy and loss, and although this film is scary, it also has heart. The film is very similar to Pan's Labyrinth in way of tone- Guillermo del Toro, of course, was involved. The difference is that this film is a hell of a lot scarier, but I did find myself feeling like this was Pan's sequel almost.

    All I have to say really is that people need to see this.

    Thank God the remake has been put on hold. They better not touch it.

    I won't spoil much, but simply instruct. See this film. Experience the perfect mix of horror, suspense, drama and fantasy.
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 12, 2013
    8
    A fantastic movie that will chill you and frighten you at some points. Extraordinary photography and plot. Really liked Belen Rueda. The end was surprisingly sad. A great thriller Full Review »