Guillermo del Toro executively produced this movie, but it must be understood this is not his film. But that doesn't mean it isn't any good. The ads were pretty creepy, and I love a good creep-out, but sadly I didn't get to see this movie in theatres. I can't remember why.
Laura grew up in an orphanage and was adopted at the ripe age of 9. Now that she's grown and has an adopted son of her own, she's moved her family back to the old orphanage with a plan to re-open the place as a school for special needs children. While Laura and her husband prepare the house for the opening, their son, Simon, occupies himself with an imaginary friend who tells him dark secrets. During a party, Laura is haunted by the image of a boy wearing a sack over his head, and the party is cut short by Simon's disappearance. Months pass and the boy is never found. Laura's persistent search for her missing son brings her face-to-face with Simon's imaginary friend, and she finally learns his fate.
I have to say, the story is not at all what I was expecting based on the trailers. I thought I was in for a movie about a creepy haunted orphanage, in which people are stalked by bag-headed children. Instead I was treated to a movie about a woman's search for her missing son in a creepy haunted orphanage. The bag-headed kid was just window dressing.
In spite my defied expectations, The Orphanage still turned out to be pretty haunting. The movie is incredibly atmospheric, which is something I haven't seen in a while. The tension builds and builds, but your hopes for a satisfying climax are constantly delayed. The end is a total downer, but it's no less satisfying, and a welcome relief.
So that makes two great Spanish horror movies I've seen of late. Is it enough to make me turn my back on American mainstream horror? No, but I'm now looking forward to seeing more of what Spain and Europe have to offer (except maybe for Belgium).