Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Screamfestindo 2007: El Orfanato / The Orphanage (2007)

El Orfanato. Film Review. There's a visible difference about a film that was produced by and a film that was directed by. Even if the producer and the director were the same guy, the results would never be the same.

El Orfanato was produced by one of my favorite film-maker, Guillermo Del Toro, and i had expected that the film would at least be in a par with his other works. Oh, the film was great, and even better than some of Del Toro's works, but there's something undeniable that i didn't get what i had expected. It's like you went into your favorite restaurant in order to eat the food prepared by your favorite chef, only to taste something similar cooked by some other chef. The food was still good, but it's not the same, and probably the restaurant manager won't admit that it wasn't prepared by your favorite chef. But somehow you knew. It won't stop you to coming back to the restaurant another day, though. But you knew, that on that particular night, you were being cheated at.

Okay, with that being said, Indonesian film-makers, this is how you should make a horror-film. Learn from it.

Laura grows on an orphanage. She was adopted when she was just a child, but years later when she had married and had a child, she went back, bought the orphanage, and intended to use the house as a good cause. Just like the orphanage but more to an orphanage for a mentally-special children. But before she did her noble cause, Simon, her son, her adopted son, anyway, had started to made new 'friends' and shortly afterwards, after the emotional dispute between the two, Simon is missing and Laura had to wind back into her past, into her time when she grew up in the house in order to find Simon.

Unlike most horror-films, the film doesn't relies on sudden movements, flashing shadows, nor a shaking camera to make you squirm in your seat. The camera was slow, and steady in movement, and never deliberately shakes which i'm grateful. Oh, there's some 'boo' moments that intended to made you jump from your seat. In fact, one of the 'jump' scene caught me off-guard and made me really jump out of my seat. There's one particular scary moment on the film, but not one that could give you nightmares, it's rather a kind of moment that similar to the feeling when you ride a rollercoaster and prepares for the first dive. It works terrifically well. And the film ends in a great note, an ending that both sad and happy, an ending that feels right, logically and emotionally. This review may not sound hopeful. But really, i had kept the amount to minimum merely because i don't want to spoil the fun of watching it. Believe me, it is.

The film wasn't free of faults though, I found that the film rather jumpy between scenes during the first hour, with too many black-shift-editing to my liking. But, just like a rollercoaster ride i mentioned earlier, the amount of tension was slowly but steadily rising, and when Laura decides to stay alone in the house, that's when the fun really starts to roll. And there's nothing, not even the heart-breaking ending could stop it.

This might be one of my best film in 2007 so far. Probably at a third spot, tied with Knocked Up, below Lust, Caution and The Bourne Ultimatum. But of course, with Persepolis, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men and I'm Not There, still waiting, i had a reasonable doubt that the film won't last long in the third spot.

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