‘El Orfanato’ is about a woman named Laura, who gets back to her orphanage, her ‘Home’, along with her adopted son Simon and Husband Carlos. She wants to adopt a few more kids who are dysfunctional and challenged as she few up with such ones and take care of them in the house. But things change when Simon goes missing after she couldn’t excuse his behavior. Scavenging of 9 months wouldn’t get a clue but a medium weighs in some information about it. That’s when the plot unveils and wreak havoc all over.
There are many horror films we have seen across the globe. Let it be ‘Conjuring’, ‘Dheyyam’, they all banked on the jump -scares and cheap thrills. The horror of the ghost attacking you. And then, there are Mexican horrors where it about waiting for things to happen. They aren’t much jump scares in this horror. You just wait, anticipate and dread to look or know what’s happening or who’s there. Your curiosity is the horror, your attention is the fear. The very fact that you are not scared about the characters or ghosts, but what happened to them is itself a very novel emotion of horror & fear. Isn’t it is all about? They are nothing but just a tragedy.
After the medium walk through the house, she says to Laura “When something terrible happens, sometimes it leaves a trace, a wound that acts as a knot between two-time lines. It’s like an echo repeated over and over, waiting to be heard. Like a scar or a pinch that begs for a caress to relieve it.” Isn’t that the very definition of a ghost?
For a film like this, you need an exceptional work on aesthetics, camera, and background. Cinematographer Óscar Faura has made sure that you don’t leave the house or the room, even if Laura or Simon does. There are track shots, there are dolly shots, there are push-ins, but not a sudden pan! The “mandatory” shot for any horror. The tables walk, the chairs move, the Chandeliers speak, the doors whisper. The properties know your history more than the people of the house, they are the witness of our history and yet no one acknowledges them. Juan Antonio García Bayona should be appreciated for making such an authentic take! Fernando Velázquez’s soundtrack is your pulse!
‘El Orfanato’ is the first film that crosses my mind whenever I hear ‘horror films’. The very fact that you don’t fear the ghost but for what happened to them makes this film more authentic, more relatable, more human! That’s very hard to achieve, that too in horror. Such an excellent film that it won’t make you get scared or hate even the ghosts, while we just get scared and evacuate the people from a different community. Scaring away the people who just want to live their life. Doesn’t it make us the “Evil” “Devil” the real “Ghost”?
By Cinema Ronin