16 November 2008

The Orphanage

The Orphanage is a subtle horror film, which gradually creates tension in viewers until the point where the climax sublimely flourishes. However, those viewers who want quick, dramatic ghostly appearances that scare their socks off might be disappointed. But those who want a rather slow-pacing horror-cum-detective fiction will definitely like it.

This is not just a horror flick that aims to make viewers guess what's happening, it's also a stylish film, too. However, one sometimes wonders why the samaritan couple would wish to live in such a big house. Of course I understand that the protagonist Laura wants to remake the house, which was once the orphanage where she grew up, and turn it into her little paradise where she and her husband can form their own team of adopted children. (This sounds pretty much like Madonna and Angelina Jolie, but this trend has yet to catch up in Thailand.) Her samaritanism is on the verge of madness, as if it were motivated by her own guilt to survive and prosper after life in the orphanage. Her friends there, by contrast, disappeared without a trace.

The more she wanders around the house, trying to refurbish it, Laura gradually discovers a series of shocking truths. Needless to say, it also involves her only adopted son Simon, who keeps talking and playing with his imaginary friends. The director did a great job in making us feel not only horrified by the whole past incidents but sympathise with Laura in shouldering all these responsibilities.

However, if there's going to be a drawback, it's how little we know about Laura and what is the cause of her good will. Surely she had been brought up in the orphanage, but we're given too few details why she chooses to come back. Maybe I didn't watch it properly, but I couldn't help but feeling that the film would've been even better had the director provided more clues or played upon the issue of Laura's guilt.

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