An impressive feature-film debut by director Juan Antonio Bayona, The Orphanage is a magnificent and very effective horror drama with a multilayered, enthralling, and emotionally powerful story. The film is rather straightforward—and is all the better for it—but that does not mean that everything is clearly explained; ambiguities and a sense of mystery remain when the movie is over. The creepy setting, splendid cinematography, and sound effects of varying degrees of subtlety make the film incredibly atmospheric; watch it alone, in the dark, and at high volume for maximum effect. Belén Rueda and Roger Príncep are excellent and give convincing performances as mother and son; great acting by the other cast members as well. The opening credits are noteworthy in their originality. The Orphanage really resonated with me and gave me goose bumps on more than one occasion.
(Original title: El orfanato.)