Dennis suggests The Orphanage (in Foreign Language). Buoyed by good word-of-mouth and, perhaps more importantly, the name of producer (and director of the similar The Devil’s Backbone Guillermo Del Toro) on the cover, this one is renting like a shiny, perfectly-circular hotcake and, slave to the groove that I am, I, and the exquisite Ms. S. Customer popped it in the player recently and, I’m just gonna say it: better than The Devil’s Backbone (which I really like). The set up: a
woman (the beautifully weathered Belen Rueda) along with her loving husband and cute, smart little son move into the spooky old former orphanage where she grew up in order to start a special needs school. And the school opens to great acclaim, the kids are happy, and everything turns out splendidly for everyone. Psych! Of course not- the kid starts seeing new imaginary friends, things go missing, a spooky, owly old broad shows up and unnerves everybody, and then…well, I’m not giving anything away beyond that. What I will say is that the acting is top-notch (Rueda, the hubby and the refreshingly un-cutesy little kid are great, and Geraldine Chaplin shows up to lend her patented brand of spindly, birdy weirdness to the role of a spooky psychic), no one (unusually for a horror film) does anything particularly stupid in a tight spot, there’s some really unexpected and shocking twists (Ms. S. Customer and I both let out a synchronized ‘what the f**k?’ at one point, I believe), and, again largely thanks to the leading lady, there’s some guaranteed tears along the way. Scary, surprising, resonant, and moving. Rent this and The Devil’s Backbone together for that haunted orphanage double feature you’ve always wanted.