Last week Chris and I discovered we had had similar movie experiences in college. We had both scene a horror movie in theaters that we loved but thought was ruined by the ending. We then discovered that I hadn’t seen his movie and he hadn’t seen mine, so we spent a night watching both and seeing how we felt about them now.
For Chris, his movie was The Orphanage. This was one I had wanted to see for a while, but just sort of missed. It reminded me a lot of Pan’s Labyrinth, which I love, mostly in that I think they’re both movies that can be fairly scary in the moment, but in the end are much more sad than they are scary.
I really liked The Orphanage because I liked the story. It wasn’t quite the stereotypical haunted house/murderer thing like other horror movies. There isn’t much (if any) jump scares, which I always appreciate. The movie played a lot on anxiety; most of the action revolves around a couple’s missing child. I guess now that I think about it, the ghost children in the house had been murdered, but there wasn’t a murderer after anyone anymore, not really at least.
There were some weird/annoying things about the movie, like how Carlos (Fernando Cayo), the husband of Laura (Belén Rueda), our protagonist, leaves her in the house alone on her insistence. She wants him to, but the house is huge. Couldn’t he just stay in a far away room? Because she’s obviously all fucked up at this point. Another thing I thought was weird was this subplot of HIV. We find out that Simón (Roger Príncep), Laura and Carlos’ adopted son, is HIV positive, which makes his disappearance worse because he needs medicine. But then later it’s implied that the medium Laura goes to for help is also HIV positive, and maybe Laura is too? It was really unclear, and maybe it’s a translation issue. I think they wanted to make it seem like Simón was closer to these dead children because he was a child with a terminal illness, but that was sort of lost on me. It was just weird.
But honestly, I sort of loved The Orphanage. I can see why Chris or anyone else would have problems with the ending; it doesn’t negate what happened before, but it’s not really connected to the supernatural stuff, either. But the very end, like the last 2 or 3 minutes, were great, I thought. This is definitely worth seeing, especially if you like horror movies but don’t appreciate shit jumping at you for no reason.
This was the second time watching this movie but I have to say it wasn’t as scary the second time around. I remember watching this in theaters when it came out and a few people from college and I went to see it. I remember everyone being freaked out by Tomas and most people finding it hard to sleep that night, except I think everyone had decided that the end was pretty terrible and ruined the movie.
Watching this film for a second time, I mostly found this movie to be boring and frustrating. The movie really isn’t a horror film; it’s kind of a family film in many ways but really, really sad. I will say though that watching it again and thinking about it more the end makes more sense to me now. I still think it’s dumb but it makes sense.