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Film Review: The Orphanage

You know someone in the film business has really made it big when his credit as a producer alone is enough to sell a movie. That’s the case with The Orphanage, which comes, as the movie poster boasts “from producer Guillermo del Toro.”

Del Toro’s only one of the seven producers credited for working on the film, which is actually written by Sergio G. Sánchez and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, but emphasizing his involvement isn’t simply empty marketing. The look and feel of The Orphanage, or the spookier sounding El Orfanato in the original Spanish, does feel heavily informed by del Toro’s work, particularly his little-seen 2001 film The Devil’s Backbone/El Espinazo del Diablo, which similarly dealt with Spanish speaking orphans and the supernatural.

Laura (Belén Rueda) was an orphan who grew up in a spooky old beachside orphanage. As a (rather shapely) adult and young mother, she and her doctor husband (Fernando Cayo) return to the now abandoned orphanage. They’re planning to reopen it as a school for sick children, like their adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep), who is HIV positive.

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