The Orphanage

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 151 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 151

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User Reviews

  1. KatieM.
    Dec 30, 2007
    6
    The movie was enjoyable, but did not contribute anything new to the genre. The plot, resolution, and underlying themes--corruption or perversion of childhood, redemption of mother's love--reminded me of recent American J-Horror adaptations such as The Ring and Dark Water. Also, a lot of the "scares" were more unintentionally comedic than actually scary. Overall a "good" film, but The movie was enjoyable, but did not contribute anything new to the genre. The plot, resolution, and underlying themes--corruption or perversion of childhood, redemption of mother's love--reminded me of recent American J-Horror adaptations such as The Ring and Dark Water. Also, a lot of the "scares" were more unintentionally comedic than actually scary. Overall a "good" film, but don't leave to go to the restroom--you may miss one of the two critical explanatory scenes (without them, the story really doesn't make sense). Expand
  2. ChadS.
    Jan 12, 2008
    8
    Simon(Roger Princep) is HIV-positive, which serves as a metaphor, I think, for the aesthetics of the way this filmmaker reworks the horror genre to his liking. We expect blood, but "The Orphanage" is nearly bloodless. Using AIDS as an analogy: If somebody with the virus bleeds, there's a fear of being infected. Just the very idea of an infected person shedding tainted blood scares Simon(Roger Princep) is HIV-positive, which serves as a metaphor, I think, for the aesthetics of the way this filmmaker reworks the horror genre to his liking. We expect blood, but "The Orphanage" is nearly bloodless. Using AIDS as an analogy: If somebody with the virus bleeds, there's a fear of being infected. Just the very idea of an infected person shedding tainted blood scares us. After years of sitting through so many American horror films(mostly bad), we've been conditioned to expect arterial sprays, red drippings, or some manner of spectacular bloodletting. As it turns out, nobody spills an ounce of blood in "The Orphanage", but the film manages to induce an anxiety about some death rendered in grisly detail. Simon is representative of this filmmaker's sensibilities. The young boy doesn't have to bleed to scare the bejesus out of us. "The Orphanage" takes a page out of the "Poltergeist" handboo-(make the horror twofold; human(an abducted child) and supernatural(ghosts)- with cribnotes from "The Blair Witch Project"(black screen, the human face in fearful repose), and god help us all, Steven Spielberg's worst title from his filmography. Most impressive of all is how the ghosts don't flicker, or fade away; they're either corporeal or suggested. "The Orphanage" is cerebral, but by no means is it a deconstruction of the genre. In the film's last ten minutes, you get the raw emotion of Ingmar Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" and the Spielbergian uplift of "Kick the Can"(the second segment from "The Twilight Zone: The Movie"). Pretty cool, huh. Expand
  3. THW
    Jan 14, 2008
    9
    Scares you the old fashioned way, with your own imagination and fear of the unknown. A refreshing change from the overly gory Hollywood trash that's been polluting the horror genre. A great methodical, suspense ridden film.
  4. AbbyL
    Feb 13, 2008
    10
    I absolutely LOVED this movie. Personally I think everything Sergio Sanchez and Guillermero Del Toro (spelling?) touch turns to gold. But I'm a sucker for Spanish/Mexican films. And this movie did not disappoint.
  5. Mr.PotatoR.
    Mar 11, 2008
    8
    @Jason P. You have obviously not understood anything about this movie![***SPOILER***]The mother kills herself out of guilt. She was responsible for the boys death (think about that).As I understood the boy that pushes the mother and 'smashes' her fingers is not a ghost but her son wearing the mask (when she finds him dead he is still wearing it).The old woman was alarmed when @Jason P. You have obviously not understood anything about this movie![***SPOILER***]The mother kills herself out of guilt. She was responsible for the boys death (think about that).As I understood the boy that pushes the mother and 'smashes' her fingers is not a ghost but her son wearing the mask (when she finds him dead he is still wearing it).The old woman was alarmed when she realized that people have moved back into the orphanage and acted without thinking - you are right this is as much unreasonable as it is realistic: just imagine that you have killed someone and hidden his corpse on the basement of an abandoned house, and at some point you are told that someone has moved in. Plus she Expand
  6. THES
    Mar 28, 2008
    10
    How frightening a horror becomes to watch always depends to an extent upon the individual - their fears, phobias (and subconcious even?). To my mind, The Orphanage is the most frightening movie I have ever endured. It is also expertly paced and evocatively shot.
  7. JL
    Apr 14, 2008
    10
    One of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. It really moves you inside.
  8. MattD.
    Apr 22, 2008
    8
    An excellent, chilling story that creates suspense without the mindless use of gory props and fake screams and has enough plot twists to keep it interesting. It must be (and deserves to be) watched at full volume in a quiet, dark room to have the greatest effect.
  9. Radrian
    May 22, 2008
    9
    Great movie. On par with some of the best Hitchcock made. Amazing ending.
  10. RyanM.
    May 27, 2008
    9
    Simple, well shot, ghost story that has more depth in it's simplicity and mood than the obvious American style scares with monsters and gore. Great, even, and chilling made this film worthwhile..
  11. Luiz
    Jun 14, 2008
    9
    Fantastic! The movie captures the attention from the first minute till it´s brilliant ending. A must see!
  12. EmericC
    Aug 11, 2009
    8
    Great movie, but the ending could've been better.
  13. SeanW.
    Jan 22, 2008
    10
    It's so rare to find a horror movie in this day and age that has a genuine story and quality writing. Far too often it's full of genre cliches that disappoint. The Orphange is a definite masterpiece.
  14. CarolinaG.
    Apr 15, 2008
    10
    A completely unexpected ending. A movie full of details. I liked the way in which they turned a simple orphanage horror movie into a true original story. Loved the screenplay.
  15. ModestusQ.
    Apr 23, 2008
    8
    The horror genre has been inundated with mediocre and derivative films, or absolute dreck for longer than I care to recall. It is such a breath of fresh air when one comes along that not only redeems the genre, but also transcends it. This is such a film. 'The Orphanage' has the chills, thrills and scares, but also delivers a genuinely moving and thoroughly engaging human story. The horror genre has been inundated with mediocre and derivative films, or absolute dreck for longer than I care to recall. It is such a breath of fresh air when one comes along that not only redeems the genre, but also transcends it. This is such a film. 'The Orphanage' has the chills, thrills and scares, but also delivers a genuinely moving and thoroughly engaging human story. One aspect of this film I particularly enjoyed is that it never relented character and subtlety in favor of a seemingly bottomless bag of "Boo" tricks. Wonderful and highly recommended! Expand
  16. [Anonymous]
    Jun 18, 2008
    8
    Screw you, Steve. You don't know what a good film is. Sure it coulda been shorter and characters coulda been developed more. But it is scarier than any other film I've ever seen. So Steve, go to hell, and cry like the little bitch you are.
  17. Austin
    Feb 25, 2009
    10
    Terrific suspense and a great textured story. The acting is much better than I'd expected. The ending was one of the most moving to ever come out of the horror genre. Well worth your time! See it!
  18. Sep 1, 2010
    8
    Woman moves her family back into the orphanage she grew up in as a child, son has "new friends", strange things start happening.
    Really well put together ghost story that moves along well. Brilliant locations & well directed with some proper chilling moments along the way.
    Un, dos, tres, toca la pared!!
  19. Feb 4, 2012
    8
    This is easily one of the most affective horror movies in the past few years, and certainly one of the best that I've ever seen. This movie runs on suspense and a great story that has you actually caring about Laura and her family. Don't let the subtitles throw you off because if you skip this spanish film then you're only doing yourself an injustice. Perhaps one of the best parts of thisThis is easily one of the most affective horror movies in the past few years, and certainly one of the best that I've ever seen. This movie runs on suspense and a great story that has you actually caring about Laura and her family. Don't let the subtitles throw you off because if you skip this spanish film then you're only doing yourself an injustice. Perhaps one of the best parts of this movie is its great ending that makes sense and is sad, yet you don't really question it. Sorry 'Saw' fans, there's no blood or much gore in this movie but that's the flaw of those movies anyway. If you want a clean, suspenseful movie that makes you think then give this movie a try. Definitely worth it! Expand
  20. Apr 30, 2012
    8
    Great film, definitely one of the better horror films out there. Cleverly directed and while it may not be the scariest film out there, it is still full of some very creepy moments and clever jump moments. The idea of using a child to scare the audience has been used so many times before and while its not an original idea, it's handled well here. Overall The Orphanage is a great film, itGreat film, definitely one of the better horror films out there. Cleverly directed and while it may not be the scariest film out there, it is still full of some very creepy moments and clever jump moments. The idea of using a child to scare the audience has been used so many times before and while its not an original idea, it's handled well here. Overall The Orphanage is a great film, it has a clever story, interesting characters and some really creepy twists, it could have used a bit of clarification in its ending but otherwise it's a great horror movie, just remember to put English subtitles on. Expand
  21. Oct 31, 2012
    8
    Much more than the usual jump-scare horror movies! 'The Orphanage' is very burdensome in a way I've never seen before with a horror/thriller movie. Its story and the closure of it are fantastic, the screenplay is one of the utterly best in this genre. The acting really got me, the way the little kid plays is fantastic! It's not that mysterious, weird manner like in movies as 'The Omen' -Much more than the usual jump-scare horror movies! 'The Orphanage' is very burdensome in a way I've never seen before with a horror/thriller movie. Its story and the closure of it are fantastic, the screenplay is one of the utterly best in this genre. The acting really got me, the way the little kid plays is fantastic! It's not that mysterious, weird manner like in movies as 'The Omen' - it's just a normal kid with ominous things happening around him. The medium doesn't feel unrealistic like in ANY other horror film and Belén Rueda, the main actress, doesn't ever get hysterious. This movie truly is a renovation in the mystery genre. Albeit the viewer doesn't catch sight of the really scary scenes in this movie, the whole aura of the film is creepy and your heart beats twice as fast usual while watching it. I wasn't completely pleased with the medium scene or the resolution, but nevertheless 'The Orphanage' is one of the best scary movies I've ever seen and by the way also great in other aspcets like acting, screenplay, cinematography or the disquieting score. Go and watch this movie! Expand
  22. 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
  23. 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,
    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.
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  24. DanielleM.
    May 27, 2008
    10
    This movie was amazing, i couldn't get enough. You really have to pay attention to understand whats going on. I like it when a movie keeps you on the edge of your set, and this one does.
  25. Oct 15, 2015
    9
    The Orphanage is a truly brilliant work from director J.A. Bayona, Guillermo del Toro's protege. As a horror film, "El Orfanato" is incredibly terrifying and has you on the edge of your seat until the very end. The use of sound, mystery, and great horror acting, all combine to make for one seriously scary film. However, where The Orphanage truly knocks it out of the park is the ending.The Orphanage is a truly brilliant work from director J.A. Bayona, Guillermo del Toro's protege. As a horror film, "El Orfanato" is incredibly terrifying and has you on the edge of your seat until the very end. The use of sound, mystery, and great horror acting, all combine to make for one seriously scary film. However, where The Orphanage truly knocks it out of the park is the ending. Truly, it manages to take it from being a great horror flick to one of the better films I have ever seen.
    *SPOILERS*
    The ending is truly great for its portrayal of death and loss. There are few films that deal with it as well as this one. It still works as a horror film by allowing in the emotional element, but works very well even as a non-horror film, even though all of the scares are explained by largely rationale things.
    *END SPOILERS*

    The Orphanage is an absolutely impeccable film with a fantastic story, beautiful costumes, a creepy atmosphere, beautiful set pieces, and an overall wonderful ending. Truly, you must watch The Orphanage.
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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.