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The Orphanage

Year: 2007
Production Co: Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos
Director: J A Bayona
Producer: Guillermo Del Toro
Writer: Sergio G Sanchez
Cast: Belen Rueda

Just like Quentin Tarantino shepherded Hero to English speaking screens, I wonder how much 'producer' Guillermo Del Toro really had to do with this creepy effort.

Whether he was instrumental in making it happen or just slapped his name on the finished product it was a return to the classic ghost story of the type we've seen more of in recent years, most notably The Devil's Backbone (and not just because of the Spanish locality).

A woman returns to her childhood home, a disused orphanage that's now a stately country manor near a beach. With her son and husband in tow, she has mostly happy memories of the place, all apart from the creepy kid they hardly saw but who wore a sack mask and was kept away from them.

Her son starts talking about treasure hunt games his imaginary friend sets in motion for him, and during a party to celebrate the reopening of the house - to be a home for disabled kids - he disappears after the figure of a kid wearing the sack mask locks her in a bathroom.

With a spirit medium called in, an elderly lady who knows the terrible secret about her son she and her husband are keeping, bones in the old laundry ovens and a host of other plot devices, there's a classic haunted house tale to be unraveled, and the filmmakers achieve a creepy tone that doesn't burst into frightening life as much as you expect, but slowly saws the nerves.

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