The Orphanage, directed with atmospheric power by Juan Antonio Bayona, is a Spanish-language haunted-house horror movie for grown-ups who want something more than the gore, dismemberment and sadism of so many current shockers. Laura (Belen Rueda, giving a bravura performance), her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and young adopted son Simon (Roger Princep) return to the Spanish orphanage where Lauren lived as a child 30 years before, hoping to turn the now-deserted site into a home for disabled children. An uncomfortable aura of unease builds as the sickly Simon starts playing with imaginary friends — and then he suddenly vanishes, leaving the distraught Laura devastated and desperate to be reunited with her son.
While there are patent affinities with spectral movies like The Innocents and The Others, Bayona, making a memorable directorial debut, racks up the suspense without resorting to obvious horror movie cliches. See it now, before Hollywood decides on a crass remake.