"The Orphanage" ***

Sunday January 6, 2008

It's off to The Charles Theater to take in the premier of the 41st series of the long-running Cinema Sunday At The Charles. This wonderful cinema club has been going strong since its inception by the late great George Udell in 1995 and this film was a nice way to kick off the series. First time director Juan Antonia Bayona, with an assist by producer Guillermo Del Toro (director of last year's masterpiece "Pan's Labyrinth") provides a chilling ghost/horror story that brings "The Others" to mind. Belen Rueda ("The Sea Inside") plays a mother who returns to live in the orphange of her past with her husband and adopted son. Soon thereafter, the child is playing with mysterious invisible playmates, and things begin to go bump in the night. Before you can say "GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST", the child has vanished and the mother is starting to see and experience otherworldly events herself. However, despite the requisite scares and sounds, the story packs a mystery that will have you engrossed to the end. Also, a nice cameo by Geraldine Chaplin who portrays a psychic/medium hired by the family to get to the root of the problem. Nice score and atmosphere contribute to this satisfying thinking man's ghost story. Extremely impressive directorial debut by Bayona.

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