Hello Meat Sacks.
Todays Wasted Wednesday comes to you on a Sunday because, well….beer was involved. I’ll leave it at that. Now that we’re here, let me introduce you to my film selection for the Women In Horror Month: “The Orphanage”. I’m a massive fan of Spanish Horror, or Spanish language horror films. There’s something so morbid about the culture in Spain and Mexico, whether from the Catholic influence or just a general worldview that seeps through to their holidays, cinema, art, and hobbies. I’m generalizing, of course, but there’s no arguing that there is an incredible beauty that can be found in the dark dreams of Spanish and Latino filmmakers. The two collaborators on this film, Spaniard director J.A. Bayona and Mexican producer Guillermo Del Toro, prove that in spades here.
–Should I watch this?
If you’re in the mood for a sad, lonely, grim movie in the vein of “The Others” or “The Woman in Black”, then yes. Don’t expect a lot of gore or jump scares, but do expect a lot of atmosphere and well-earned creepy scenes. This movie is pure old-school get-under-your-skin horror.
-Should I be drunk to watch this?
It ain’t no party movie, but you’ll probably want a shot or two by the end, just to drown out the FEELS. Oh, the feels.
-Are there titties?
Dude, this ain’t that kinda flick. And only watch this on date night if you want tears and weird silences in your night afterwards instead of hot bone action.
Full disclosure: I don’t want kids. I don’t like ’em, I don’t think they’re cute, and “precociousness” irritates the shit out of me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that kids creep me out, especially the younger they are. When people ask me what scene scared me the most in film history, I’m likely to say the wolf in the wall in “Neverending Story” or the end of “Angel Heart”. (If you’ve seen the end of “Angel Heart”, you know what I’m saying here. FUCK that kid.)
So a film about the deep motherly feelings that a woman has for her adopted child, and the anguish it causes her when he goes missing in a decidedly supernatural way, is not the type of film I would think I would necessarily identify with or be affected by. Well spank my ass and call me Pinkie, but this movie fucking wrecks me. It’s beautifully shot and acted, and has just enough tinges of ghost story and murder mystery to make my horror taste buds tingle.
Belén Rueda plays the main protagonist, and this was one of the first films I thought of when I was told we were featuring Women In Horror this month. I will spoil nothing, but I’m sure folks who’ve watched this movie will argue with me about choosing this character in particular as a paragon of womanhood. So please hear me out. Rueda, as an actress, has such deep pools of soul in her eyes that the barest flicker of an expression speaks volumes about her character. This woman feels deeply, and plays this mother like a brooding, flawed, hurt person…someone REAL, who makes terrible choices and has to live or die with the consequences.
It’s a fascinating portrayal, and again, this is about women in HORROR, and there are few things I can imagine would be more horrific to a woman than losing your child mysteriously. Frankly, this movie serves up a few of those other things as well, and it’s a fascinating representation of how strongly a woman can react to such trauma, whether or not you agree with the outcome. This is a painful movie, and I fucking love how the filmmakers don’t shy away from confronting the depths of pain this character feels as the movie progresses.
The movie isn’t just female angst and emotions, thank goodness. There’s a well rounded bit of truly spooky stuff here too, like a childhood “red-light, green-light” game that might be the most goosebump-inducing thing in the film, to your typical ghost story staples like the creepy kid, the creepy old lady, the creepy old house, and the creepy seance scene with yet another creepy old lady. All of it is done with a healthy nod to the many tropes the film apes, while still putting a new shine on quite a few of the aspects I was ready to dismiss for having been done to death before.
At the end of the day, the movie does a good job of making you care about its protagonist. Whether or not you agree with her decisions or with her reactions, you feel for and empathize with her. And as a result, you end up like me, who could give two fucks about kids in real life, but somehow found myself fully identifying with how this woman felt as her young son was taken from her, and her world crumbled as a result. It’s a great, dark, sad, morbid story.
Gorgeous, sad, and spooky. A good late night film by yourself, or with a few people who like being quiet while watching movies. Not for the gore-hound set, though there is one monster gore-shot that will flip your wig if you’re not ready.
ATTENTION DEFICIT DRUNKS CORNER:
Look, if you need a drinking game to watch this, you’ve already lost. My suggestion is to pop a bottle of wine by yourself, and just drink until the tears stop.
UNCLE FRANKS SPLATTER SCORE:
-Four and a half weird masked kids out of five.
QUAFF QUOTIDIAN: *NEW FEATURE!!*
(Drink what Uncle Frank drinks with our new gullet-wetting recommendation section!!) During this review, Uncle Frank was drinking a Rockmill Brewery Saison Noir. It’s a Belgian-style farmhouse ale that’s as black as a witch’s butthole, but far tastier, and harder to find. Like dried stone fruit, caramel, and tobacco in a glass. 8% ABV. Highly recommended!!
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Categories: Women in Horror