Review: Subtle Scares in `Orphanage’

January 5, 2008 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

The Orphanage

The Orphanage

Floors creak and doors slam. Hidden passages lead to secret compartments. Ratty old dolls show up out of nowhere.

Are these playful signs from the children who lived in “The Orphanage” long ago, or a harbinger of something more sinister? That’s the mystery in this well-crafted if familiar haunted house story, the first feature from young Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona.

Guillermo del Toro serves as one of the film’s producers and Bayona, working from a script by Sergio Sanchez, seems to be aiming for the same mix of the real and the supernatural that del Toro himself achieved last year with his excellent “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It’s a tough balance to strike, and it’s even tougher to live up to comparisons to such a cinematic original. (“The Orphanage” is actually more reminiscent of Alejandro Amenabar’s super-creepy “The Others,” starring Nicole Kidman.)

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