One. Two. Three. Knock on the Wall

ElorfanatoFinally our terrifying journey through October, the spookiest month of all, comes to an end with our last  Halloween special podcast for 2013. After looking at horror in the 1950s with Night of the Demon and in the 1970s with The Wicker Man, we finish with what is considered a modern classic, 2007’s The Orphanage.

The thing that unites all three of the films we’ve watched for Halloween is the fact that the ‘horror’ or scary elements of the story don’t actually seem to be the point of the story. The Night of the Demon was a psychological thriller, whereas The Wicker Man was a, er, folk musical dark comedy. And The Orphanage? A story about how two people deal with the loss of a child.

The film follows Laura played by Belén Rueda. Laura grew up in the titular orphanage and has returned as an adult with her doctor husband Carlos and their adopted son Simón with plans to turn it into a home for children with special needs. Simón starts to talk to apparently invisible children, including one who wears a cloth sack over his face…

Neither Lewis nor I had seen the film before. Knowing it was produced by Guillermo del Toro and being fans of his work, we were looking forward to a beautiful looking film and, if we’re honest, slightly worried about being scared witless by weird, creepy-looking ghost kids. Although gorgeous to look at (and of course it’s the director J. A. Bayona who should get the credit for that), the film wasn’t as scary as we were expecting. Odd and creepy yes, but not exactly terrifying. More than anything the film made me sad, watching Laura trying to cope with the disappearance of Simón and her growing desperation.

We also ended up talking a lot about the plot holes of the film, so if you haven’t seen it, be warned: we spoil the film rotten!

Our Secret Sponsor for this week is Rhidian Davis (@rhidiandavis), who’s currently overseeing the BFI Gothic season ( There are loads of great screenings coming up over the next couple of months – we urge you to check out the programme.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy The Orphanage on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking the links (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 067 – The Orphanage

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We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director:  J. A. Bayona  Year of release: 2007  Studio/Distributor: Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos, Grupo Rodar, Rodar y Rodar Cine y Televisión, Telecinco Cinema, Televisió de Catalunya (TV3), Warner Bros. Pictures de España, Wild Bunch  Country: Spain and Mexico

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