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Where's your mama gone?
The Orphanage (DVD)
Member Name: ryanando
The Orphanage (DVD)
Advantages: Great story, brilliant performances, nice and creepy.
Disadvantages: None unless you have issues with subtitles.
My neighbour is a flicker. I hate flickers. A flicker, for those of you not up on your Ryan speak, is someone who cannot or will not listen to a song the whole way through. If you were to ask my neighbour what the last line of any song on the planet was, she would NOT be able to tell you as she gets bored after about a minute and flicks to another song. Why is this of any consequence? Well, it is because of her flicking habits (ahem) coupled with her very bad taste in music (it would not be out of place in an elevator in a museum) that I was forced out of my bed on this particular...morning. That word makes me shudder. I believe she melted to a small pile of ash and goo when I blared a song in its entirety back at her. I love people.
Upon peeling back the curtains, shrinking away from the sun and stumbling out into my hall, I noticed I had a rather large delivery of DVD's I had ordered from Play.com (Note to self, must review play.com). Each package was lovingly opened, each DVD inspected. Lingering over the film I was most excited about, the imagery on the covers (which is dominated by a few eerie images and a LOT of stars from various newspapers and the like) and the discs (all two of them) were devoured by my picture hungry eyes. Then I shoved them to the side and buggered off into town to pick up some Halloween stuff.
One Mad Scientist costume complete (which I have rated 15, the same as the movie) , I arrived back to my empty flat (my flat mate was at work) and decided "what the hell" . I grabbed "The Orphanage" (aka El Orfonato) and stared lovingly at it for a few minutes, turning it over in my hands. Then I put it down and forgot all about it for a good few weeks till I had moved house.
So now I'm sitting with ...er...most...of my belongings unpacked (which, for the record, does not mean they are put away neatly) and no internet to keep my mind occupied. I figure I'll finally get round to watching the movie that I've been creaming over ever since I heard the mind behind Pan's Labyrinth (and hell boy....and blade) had let out another little Spanish treat. That sounds filthy.
First things first... I suppose I better go put it in my computer. I'll be right back...
---Movies, movies everywhere---
The first and possibly the oddest thing I will be commenting on is the adverts for other movies at the beginning of this film. Normally I skip right past them but this time I noticed that I had only heard of one (Pans Labyrinth) and the other two or three all looked like movies I will at one point have to watch and fall in love with. So good choices in the advertising!! I know, I'm crazy.
Menu wise it looks like a fairy simple one. A nice little tune is playing in the background while some rather creepy shadows move slowly across the screen in the background. All the extras are on the other disc so this one gets to keep its menu to a minimal with only the Play Film, Scene Selection and Setup. Easy!
Ok, ok, I'm finally getting round to pushing PLAY, so now to see what the story is actually about!
We begin with the sound of a breezy spring day with some children playing around in what I'm going to assume is an orphanage. Either that or a very fertile family. One of the children, Laura, is about to be carted off to a new home. Cue some very creepy opening credits and then bam, we are in the future. Laura is being awoken by her son. She stumbles over some half unpacked boxes (something I'm doing every morning) to comfort her son, Simon, who is apparently finding Laura's big creepy ex orphanage they have just moved into a tad...well...creepy?
Laura and her family have moved to the dilapidated orphanage to refurbish and reopen it. While they are waiting on the children to arrive, Simon starts making some new friends. All of them imaginary and a little bit twisted. They start playing games with him, hiding things he treasures and leaving clues to help him find them. They also start telling him secrets about himself and his family. Simon confronts his parents in the only way a child knows how, by throwing a bit of a hissy fit and blurting out everything he knows.
A few days later when the real children arrive at the mansion, Simon disappears. After the police searches turn up nothing, Laura takes a head long dive into madness, constantly searching for her child and blaming his imaginary friends for his disappearance.
As the year passes, Laura and her husband are constantly strained by Laura's insistence that her son is alive. She goes to greater and greater lengths to try and find him and eventually, she starts playing games with Simons friends.
The whole film keeps you in suspense. There are a tonne of moments where I was expecting something to jump out at me and scare the living bejesus out of me but they didn't come. Instead they left behind a layer of fear which builds and builds throughout the film in the same way bellybutton fluff builds throughout the day. You just can't stop it!
The acting is, as far as I can tell, brilliant. Since it's all in Spanish, I couldn't tell you if it sounds lifeless, out of place or the rest of it, however, the facial expressions and physicality of the acting is spot on. It all helps towards making you believe what you are watching and drags you into the story that little bit more.
---Round the Twist---
Talking of the story, I was quite impressed. Essentially it is your run of the mill ghost story. When you go past the bare bones of it though, Del Toro has constructed a brilliantly rich plot which really hooks you in. The emotion in this film is overwhelming at points and the twists and turns will leave your head spinning from the impact.
Since this is a horror movie (or at least what I would class as horror) I was expecting some gore. And gore I got. Not much mind you. Overall, this is a pretty goreless movie, but Del Toro knows how to hit where it hurts. There are only two particularly gory instances in the whole film which add up to less than a few seconds of on screen gore time. Those few seconds are precious, giving you more than enough to scream in agony at while being short enough to not allow you to over analyse it.
---All your base are belong to us----
The subtitles are something I need to comment on also. I have found in the past that some subtitles can detract from the viewability of a movie. Some translations aren't that great, leaving the viewer either trying to figure out what was just said or thinking how unbelievable the scripts were. Others are simply slapped over the top of a far too wordy film, making it hard to concentrate on the action that is actually going on screen wise.
Thankfully, whoever done the subtitles got it on the head. One thing I particularly liked was a certain scene where Laura was searching for Simon, calling "Simon" and "Darling" constantly. Some films I've seen would give you subtitles to match. This film didn't, providing the subtitles for only the first shouts and assuming the viewer is smart enough to have picked up what she was shouting. Why did I like this? First of all, the subtitle people assumed I was smart. How wrong they were. Secondly it was much easier to focus on the sheer terror and dread the character was in the middle of without having to flick my eyes to the bottom of the screen every time she opened her mouth. Fabby!
---But wait!! There's more!!---
So now that you've seen how ace the film is, you might want to delve into it a little further. Well, aren't you a curious little cookie! The kind people at Optimum Releases have provided us with a whole other disc of extra stuff! And what a full disc it is, offering up a rather ominous 13 whole extras for you to devour. I suppose I'll start from the start!
---Q & A with Juan. Antonio Bayona---
The above mentioned Mr is the director. As you may imagine from the title, this is a question and answer session with Mr JAB (his new name) and the surprisingly quiet sound designer Oriol Tarrago. The person doing the questioning is the famous film critic type person who also shares his name with my mothers side of the family, Mark Kermode. Joining them is a rather eccentric looking interpreter just in case there are any difficulties (of which there are only a few).
I quite enjoyed this extra as the two Spanish dudes are, quite frankly, stunning. Throw in the fact that Mr JAB and Kermode have a good sense of humour, it becomes quite comical at parts. Being that it is Kermode who is asking the questions, there are some brilliant, insightful conversations that follow.
After Kermode is done berating dumb American audiences, he passes the floor to the slightly more intelligent British audience takes over and gets some more responses from Mr JAB. Yay for them!
I'd say a big thumbs up for this extra which lasts for about 40 minutes.
---Making of the orphanage---
This 12 minute extra explores the making of the film. The director is looking a bit uglier in this extra so my poor heart is breaking. This extra is all in Spanish with subtitles over the action. The down side of this is that the extra moves a lot faster than the film with a lot of speaking over the visuals so I found it a bit more difficult to take it all in. That being said, it's still a good little extra. I will probably watch this again so I can get a better look at the visual side of it.
---The set of the Orphanage ---
3 minutes worth of looking at the set of the film which was pretty much built from scratch in a studio, using the actual house when they needed outside shots. This gives you a great insight into the meticulous attention to detail that spawned this fabulously authentic set. Another good extra, though I would think it could be either a little longer or incorporated into one of the others.
---The sound of the orphanage---
Firstly I would like to point out that whoever done the subtitles for this one cannot tell the difference between "hear" and "here". That annoyed me. So much attention to detail in everything else only to be cocked up by quite an obvious mistake in the subtitles. Silly. Utterly silly!
As for the extra itself, it's 7 minutes of "ok". It focuses on one scene in the film, firstly playing it with just the sounds recorded on filming, then adding in all the effects, with the quiet sound guy from the Q & A extra telling you what they are doing. It wasn't the most interesting extra in the world, mainly because I don't really see much difference between the two versions. Shrug.
---Interview with Guillermo del Toro and J.A Bayona---
"We're here in Budapest, Porn capital of Europe" advises Del Toro with a rather hung over (but suitably hot again) Mr JAB next to him. The 8 minutes that follow give away another few interesting tid bits about the film, for example that they changed the sky in the outdoor shots with their nifty little computers to look a tad more foreboding. It makes me appreciate the film a little bit more because had I not been told, I would never have known. Usually I can spot CG a mile away. Hmf. Either way, another return to the thumbs up side of things for this extra.
---Lighting the Darkness---
Five minutes about lighting the set. You would think it would be a dull five minutes, but it's actually quite interesting, showing the different lighting effects and challenges that were met head on by the lighting dude who looks a bit like Jesus. My thumb is in the upward position.
---Roger Princep - the casting---
We are at the halfway point in the extras. This is the point where I realise there are a tonne of extras. Not a bad thing. But if you do want to watch them all back to back, this could be problematic. For example, instead of watching and blethering on about this one and the rest of them, I'm going to go to bed first!
Now that I have an ice cold blue wkd in my hand and am suitably awake after what I can only describe as a slightly paranoid sleep (thank you scary movies before bed and a drunken boyfriend coming over at 4 in the morning)(Yep, I said boyfriend!!) I shall continue.
This 9 minute extra rather creepily begins with Roger (the child who plays Simon) telling us the story behind the film...as if he was Simon. It's just wrong. Thankfully he then becomes himself again. This extra focuses on Roger (as you may have imagined) and gives you some brilliant behind the scenes footage of him and how they got such a young kid to deliver what they wanted for their film. I'd give this another giant thumbs up. It's sickening but the kid is actually really cute and will make even the coldest of people (say, myself) raise a smile. God damn him. It must be my period.
I nearly cried when I opened this extra. This extra takes you into a whole new menu with no less than Nine deleted scenes adding up to 20 more minutes of extra, including alternative endings and beginnings and numerous other randomocities (a word that I hereby invent) for you to delve into. Brilliant for killing time, but a bit of a pain when you think your halfway through the extras then stumble upon another trove of treasures.
None the less, these extra scenes are certainly fun to watch but could have been better if you had the option to turn off the endless nattering of Mr JAB and his friends. No point in watching a scene you haven't seen if you can't hear what is being said! Half thumbs for this extra due to the endless distracting nattering.
This extra again opens a brand new menu, this time a little shorter with only 3 scenes in storyboard format. This extra plays 7 minutes worth of footage from the film in a small frame at the bottom of the screen while it shows the storyboard drawings alongside it. It would seem the father was supposed to be a bit hunkier than he actually turned out to be. Yep, I just called a pencil drawing hunky.
An interesting extra, though I wouldn't really say it added anything to my viewing experience. Nearly a full thumbing from me. But not quite.
---Shooting the credits---
Another short extra, just a quick look at the filming of the credits which is basically a bunch of children's hands pulling away wallpaper to reveal text behind it. Interesting, but again a three minute feature that could have easily have been included into something else. I'll give this half a thumb.
Back to a decent length nine minute piece, showing some of the cartoon drawings used to help the makers see how they would film the movie, it's quite interesting to see the scenes reduced to basic pencil drawings. Mr JAB also explains over the top of them why they are rather helpful for solving problems before you come to filming the scene. As much as this is an interesting piece, I'm back to wondering why this extra wasn't included in the storyboard section.
This is a tiny 2 minute extra but one that made me most happy. See, size doesn't always matter! I had never actually seen a trailer for this movie till now. That's what extras are all about I tell you!! The trailer was magnificent. It's about as creepy as the film and doesn't show all the best bits before you've seen the movie. It also does a rather good job at skirting around the fact the movie is Spanish by only using scenes where names are being frantically screamed or the almost universal "NOOOO" type moments. Other than that and that American dude with the incredibly low swinging...voice...ahem... telling us about the film, no one speaks. Possibly to trick idiots who would otherwise disown the film into coming to see it before they can judge. I sincerely hope that is why they done it. Probably it has more to do with the fact that subtitles in a trailer would just be weird. Thumbs and fingers for this one!
...er... what?? This is a rather odd extra. This is basically a reel of "old film" of the children playing in the orphanage with some rather creepy music behind it. It's like an old home movie and is basically a much extended version of the tiny clips you see of the old film reel in the movie itself. I'm not entirely sure why we needed 4 minutes of it. No thumbs for this one. Just slight confusion. Though that may be the blue wkd kicking in.
---No More Extras---
And that is it. Two hours and nine minutes of extra viewing pleasure equating to 7 and ¾ thumbs and a few fingers. Well that cant be all that bad can it? Unless of course you own that short thumb...hmm.
And this brings me to the end of the review. Just to recap, the film is brilliant, the acting is brilliant, the extras aren't entirely awful. Overall a great DVD experience and you can pretend you are posh for owning something with subtitles. Score! I can't recommend this DVD enough. It will only set you back £6.99 so go get it. Or, if you are cheap, go stick it on your Christmas list!
Summary: A brilliant little horror to add to your collection!