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The Orphanage

Thriller . Drama . Horror . Mystery

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage, intent on reopening it. Before long, her son starts to communicate with a new invisible friend.

Actors: Belén Rueda , Carmen López , Geraldine Chaplin , Óscar Casas , Édgar Vivar , Andrés Gertrúdix , Montserrat Carulla , Mabel Rivera , Roger Príncep , Fernando Cayo
Directors: J.A. Bayona
Country: SPAIN
Release: 2008-01-11
More Info:
  • Peter Rainer

    Delivers more goose bumps than anything Hollywood has served up in years – which I hope does not mean that Bayona, a first-time feature director and music video whiz, will be enlisted to direct "Saw V."

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    Reaches truly terrifying heights as it becomes clear how possible the worst outcome can be. Like "Pan's Labyrinth," this is a movie about children made very much for adults.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • David Ansen

    A great horror movie is like a good shrink--and a lot cheaper, too. It purges us through petrification. That horror movie, thankfully, has arrived. It's called The Orphanage," and it is seriously scary.

    Newsweek Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    A fastidiously grim ghost story that rattles the bones of the haunted-house genre and finds plenty of fresh (but not too bloody) meat.

    Variety Full Review
  • Desson Thomson

    Lures us in with extraordinary subtlety. Keeping sound effects and incidental music to a relative minimum, it builds its suspense almost subliminally. So when something scary or shocking does occur -- deprived of those Hollywood-style cues -- we are truly startled.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    Deliberately aimed at viewers with developed attention spans. It lingers to create atmosphere, a sense of place, a sympathy with the characters, instead of rushing into cheap thrills.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    The acting is uniformly superb, the camera work and set design are haunting, and The Orphanage delivers well-earned tears at its beautiful conclusion. Go see it already.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    By the end, you'll be chilled and disturbed by what you've seen -- and, rare as this is in a horror movie, touched to the heart.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    While some of the trappings and even some of the plot elements could easily be called unoriginal, Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez arrange them in a fresh way, crafting an emotionally resonant, nerve-jangling experience.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Olly Richards

    A good old-fashioned horror in the best possible way, this is a beautifully told, terrifying ghost story that lingers with you long after the shivers have stopped.

    Empire Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    You exit the cinema in a fever of melancholia, wondering how long it will take you to shed the sensation of alarm. The film is less of a shocker than an adventure in anxiety, testing and twisting some of the classic studies in infantile curiosity.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    Despite a few bloodcurdling shocks, this handsome Spanish ghost story from producer Guillermo del Toro follows in the suggestive, richly romantic tradition of the old Val Lewton chillers.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    As in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” The Orphanage relies on a risky blend of clinically realistic horrors and poetic suggestions of an alternate world, one that can be visited, but at a price.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    What distinguishes The Orphanage are some spare but fiendishly well-placed shocks that give the film an extra sense of danger: You can't take comfort with this one assuming you know what lurks around each corner, because you don't. Trust me.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Bayona's moves are deft, the atmosphere oozes with anxiety and grief, but the big payoff - like the big payoff in The Sixth Sense, another film The Orphanage has more than a bit in common with - never comes.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Though the movie has a handful of shots that are downright gross to witness, what makes The Orphanage scary is not what it threatens to show but what it suggests about life.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    The filmmakers know the tropes of spooky movies: Glowering shadows, squeaking playground equipment, eerie storms and half-glimpsed forms, but the film rests on Rueda's subtle, intense performance, rooted in every half-articulated anxiety that ever gnawed at a parent's brain.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    In a season filled with dark-themed films, it stands out as an elegantly mounted, surprisingly humane but terrifying horror thriller well worth seeing.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The Orphanage gets by on mood and a mournfulness that's not easily soothed. Sadness and loss, it says, are the threads connecting the spirit world and our own, and women, who bring life into the world, understand that far better than men ever will.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    For those who enjoy ghost stories and are willing to be patient with a movie that gradually unveils its secrets rather than uncovering them all in an orgy of violence and terror, The Orphanage fills a need. The spell it casts early does not evaporate until the epilogue is finished.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    You're either in the mood to go along with the puzzle pieces or you're not. I'm not usually a puzzle-piece fan myself, not when it's clear that the filmmaker rigs the moves. But I couldn't help but fall for the repurposed real estate, and cheer for the lady strong enough to break through walls when she senses a child is waiting.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Bill White

    In a genre that has been battered by the cheap grotesqueries of special effects, it is a pleasure to be unsettled by something as simple as an invasive beam of light in the shadows of a haunted house.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    As Laura, Rueda hits sublime notes of confusion, grief and wrath. She's sympathetic enough to make you root for her and complex enough to get you arguing afterward about whether Laura did anything to deserve all this.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Richard James Havis

    This Spanish supernatural thriller begins interestingly and finishes intriguingly. But what lies between drags because the film lacks a driving story line.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    The Orphanage is a careful, elegant work that looks a little rough around the edges; it was shot largely with natural light and employs minimal special effects. Full Review
  • Mark Olsen

    There’s not really a bogeyman in The Orphanage and not much blood; just insane intensity and a building sense of bad vibes.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Carina Chocano

    An unexpectedly poignant ghost story.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    The Orphanage, a diverting, overwrought ghost story from Spain, relies on basic and durable horror movie techniques.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Aaron Hillis

    The Orphanage's joys come from the experiential: Bayona's cultured technical skills, including some phenomenal sound design, and sustained anxiety. It's about as healthy as junk food gets.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Pete Vonder Haar

    It's worth a look, even taking into consideration the lack of zombies.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    You may see The Orphanage for what it is, an enjoyable contraption, without believing a bit of it.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Jack Mathews

    A combination ghost and shaggy dog story that is so well-made and acted you can nearly overlook its murky, unsatisfying ending.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Ultimately the composition comes off as both overplayed and underdone.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review