Movie Review: El Orfanato (The Orphanage)

Laura, a former orphan, raises her adopted son Simón together with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. While at the orphanage Simón tells Laura that he has five invisible friends which she believes are a product of his active imagination. Laura decides to reopen the orphanage to cater for disabled children and throws a party. During the party Simón tries to persuade Laura to go and take a look at his friends cabin but she’s too busy. Later on she sees a mysterious masked boy and realizes that Simón has also disappeared. Laura feels the presence of other people in the house and months later Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery.



The movie starts in an orphanage where Laura and her friends are seen playing a game when the phone rings. I appears that Laura is being adopted soon and will have to leave all her friends behind. Flash forward to when Laura is in her mid thirties. She is back at the orphanage where she grew up. It closed years ago and she is planning to reopen it as a home for special needs children. Laura has a husband, Carlos, and a son, Simón. Simon is a little boy of about 6 years old with two imaginary friends, Watson and Pelle. But then, Simón says that there are several more children wandering around the orphanage, one of which is named Tomás, who wears a sack as a mask. One night, a social worker named Beninga shows up on their doorstep. She has received information about Simón and wanted to check up on the family. It seems that Simón is also adopted and was born with the HIV-virus. Laura doesn’t want Simón to know that he’s adopted or ill yet and asks Beninga to leave. However, later that night Laura finds Beninga snooping around her tool shed. But, before Laura can catch her, Beninga vanishes.

The next day, Simón asks Laura to play a game. It’s a scavenger hunt that he learnt from his new friends. The scavenger hunt leads to the drawer where his adoption file was hidden. Laura doesn’t want him to see it, but Simón says that he already knew that Laura was not his real mother because Tomás told him. He also says that he knows he’s going to die soon.

Soon after, Laura plans to open the house. She organizes a party for when the children arrive. She asks Simón to come downstairs and participate but he refuses. He wants to show her Tomás’ little house. Laura says she doesn’t have time for that and leaves Simón alone upstairs. Later in the day, Laura notices that Simón is missing. She searches the house and the grounds, including the beach near the house, but she doesn’t find him.

Months pass and Simón is still missing, driving his parents desperate. While they are looking for Simón, Laura experiences strange things in the house at night. She hears banging and other strange noises, she also feels the presence of other people around her. She is convinced that Tomás is in the house and that Simón is still alive. At her wits end, she asks a paranormal investigator to help her find her son.


I watched this movie because I read that it was one of the scariest new horror films out there. So, I bravely put on this film despite it being in Spanish. After watching this film I can safely say that I will never ever fully understand or speak Spanish. Oh my god it’s so fast! It sounds like complete gibberish and a sentence that’s short in English is quite long in Spanish. Or that’s what it seemed like.

Anyway, it’s a very good film but it’s definitely not the scariest film that I have ever seen. To be honest, I was more scared with paranormal activity than I was with this film. But, that’s probably because I believe in that storta stuff 100% and I’m completely terrified of it. I would never ever put a camera in my bedroom at night. I’d rather not know. But anyway, back to topic at hand.

This movie handles a nice mixture of gore and jump scares. Not too much of any, just enough of both. The story line is very interesting and the ending is great. I read on the discussion boards that there are a couple of plot holes and the film does leave you with a bit of a ‘huh?’-feeling but I don’t think that the plot holes are that obvious or that it disturbs the story line. I like that you have to pay attention during the movie to understand the ending. Those really are the best kinds of movies.


What’s brilliant (or stupid, it’s how you look at it) about this movie is, in my opinion, that although it is a story about a haunting, the actual ghosts are not that important. They contribute to the plot but in the end it’s the humans that are the problem.


I did like this movie a lot. I will definitely watch this movie again and I certainly recommend it to you.

If you have seen it, please tell me what you think in the comments. Which are down there. You can find them. Go on. Leave a comment, okay?

Rating: 4/5


Author: EMK

Just blogging away in my free time while I try to make something of my life

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