The Orphanage & r & & r & by BEN KROMER & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Orphanage, by first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona and first-time writer Sergio G. Sanchez, is a ghost story that breaks zero new ground in a very old and crowded field. There isn't one original idea in the entire movie. Every scene, every scenario, every character has been anticipated by hundreds of ghost stories and dozens of horror films that have come before.
At the beginning, Laura and her husband take up residence in the orphanage she grew up in, intending to turn it into a home for handicapped children. Their young son Sim & oacute;n has some handicaps himself, and his parents believe they include loneliness and an overactive imagination. Soon Laura and her husband begin to believe that Simon's new imaginary friends might be a bad influence, especially Tomas, the one who wears a bag over his head. Then Simon disappears.
Cue Laura flying into a panic. Cue the unhelpful police investigator. Cue the old woman sneaking around the orphanage who claims to be a social worker but isn't. Cue the wizened and kind old medium. Cue the skeptical spouse growing fed up. Cue flashbacks and revelations of past crimes, cue the scary part when you find out why Tomas wears a bag on his head, and then finally cue the twist at the end.
Most ghost stories nowadays have a twist, and so does this review. The twist is that despite the bored, negative tone of what I've written above, this is a pretty good movie. It's true that there is nothing new in The Orphanage, but there doesn't need to be. It's not full of clich & eacute;s, it's full of classicness. There isn't anything wrong with doing something that has been done before if you can do it well enough, and I for one would rather see a hundred more competent tales of death and loss set in haunted domiciles than even one more story about technophobia imported from Japan. The Orphanage has an excellent score and good makeup, and combined with a solid ghost story, that makes for a well-above-average horror show. (Rated R)