Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 117 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Laura returns to the stately manor house that holds such a special place in her heart. The orphanage was abandoned years ago; Laura and her husband, Carlos, plan to reopen it as a center for sick and disabled children. It will be a place where boys and girls--including the couple's beloved 7-year-old Simón--can play freely in the open air, enjoying the sunshine and the nearby beach. In its years of solitude, however, the orphanage has acquired a haunted, unhappy air. To get used to his creepy surroundings, Simón starts to have relationships with imaginary friends. Simón's circle of unseen friends quickly expands to include five more boys and girls, who tell cryptic stories and engage him in elaborate games that carry a suggestion of the sinister. Troubled, Laura allows herself to get sucked into her son's eerie world, which seems to resonate with a far-away and disturbing echo of her own childhood experiences. (Picturehouse) Expand
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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 50
    Ultimately the composition comes off as both overplayed and underdone.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 54
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 54
  3. Negative: 4 out of 54
  1. Feb 9, 2012
    This movie was brilliant! I can't think in anything wrong about it. Perhaps there are some small details that needed to be clarified -if they were not left like that deliberately-, but, in movies, as it is in life, there is always room for improvement. The performances were great, and the characters were perfectly elaborates, so the audience empathize with them. I actually felt pretty close to Laura and Simon, and also to the 'ghost' children and their story. Moreover, this movie manages to continuously surprise us. There is always suspense, which makes it thrilling. In fact, at time, I had goosebumps; that, even though I am not a person who gets easily scared. Further, I love the emotional component of the film, because it was not a movie that dealt merely with death, life, and the super natural world, but it was a movie that confronted us about how each of us deals with his/her humanity. The Orphanage questions our coping mechanisms to face, pain, loss, reality, the 'unknown', and more. I think that those people who see is a 'dumb' 'silly' 'pointless' or 'boring' movie are probably more into gore or have a very narrow perspective about what is horror. I have read some of the reasons why some put this movie just a '1 or 2', and frankly, in most of the cases, their criticism shows an absolutely basic analytical thought. So, if you like intellectual stimulation, this is the movie for you! It is magnificently done. Moreover, the photography is breathtaking, so is the landscape. I loved the ending I found it very powerful...and open to your imagination. I did have tears, and I am not an overly emotional person so that means something to me. I think I can easily watch this movie twice the same day, not just because of its beauty, but also to play myself a bit with the clues...I may be able to discover more about it.!..An end note: I did like this movie more than Pan's Laberynth. I find The Orphanage is much better. Pan's Labyrinth was beautiful -what I enjoyed the most was the art direction- but the whole story didn't really impressed me much. The Orphanage is Del Toro's masterpiece! Collapse
  2. Jun 26, 2013
    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.
  3. Feb 4, 2012
    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 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
  4. Sep 1, 2010
    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!!
  5. Oct 31, 2012
    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
  6. Sep 15, 2011
    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.
  7. Apr 30, 2012
    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, 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

See all 54 User Reviews


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