Holly and I watched this last night and I wanted to give it a blog piece to be a booster for it. Not many movies affect the dreams I have the night after watching them, but this one sure did. I don't want to give ANY spoilers as that is a good deal of the fun and terror of the film, but this debut film by director Juan Bayona certainly puts him on my map of promising film-makers. The script was by Sergio Sanchez and the film was produced by Guillermo Del Toro...who certainly knows his way around high-minded horror (The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth being my favorites).
The story focuses on a woman in her late 30s, Laura, who spent the first seven or so years of her life in an orphanage by the sea. As the movie opens, she, her husband, and their seven year old son have bought and moved into the house which housed that orphanage. Their intension is to create a home for developmentally disabled children. As preparations are being made, an old woman appears at the door on a rainy afternoon to tell Laura that she has found out some information regarding her son. Aaaaaand, we're off! There are many good suspenseful scenes and fun gotcha moments. And the movie plays fair, giving you hints along the way. What sets Bayona, Sanchez, and Guillermo apart though, for me, from other directors such as Shyamalan is the final scenes are shocking, but they feel real and meaningful. There is a lot more, psychologically, going on in this movie and THAT is what freaks out my dreams for a few nights.
I think the aspect of trying to help, and sometimes losing to horrible circumstances, special needs children...as that is a big part of my career...forced this story deep into my subconscious. It also plays on the part of a parent's brain that is always afraid something bad might happen to your kids. In my dream, I was actually working in the orphanage with the kids...talking about possible genetic etiologies for neurodevelopmental disorders and educational or medication treatments for delays or problem behaviors. And, being a geek, the orphanage then shifted into Xavier's school and I was advising Prof. X on how to handle Logan's anger outbursts. My mind is a very strange place.
But...I strongly recommend this film. It's an amazing piece of genre art and should be seen and thought about by as many people as possible.
I'm especially interested in what people think of the ending. It's either very bleak or amazingly uplifting depending upon your personal views and feelings.