In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let the Love-in Begin

For some time now, I have been eagerly awaiting the Blu-ray release of one of my faves from last year, The Orphanage. I had to go through Amazon because Canadian retailers, in their infinite wisdom, decided not the carry it here.

So, I’ve spun J.A. Bayona’s debut a few more times and I can safely say that, yep, still unbelievably awesome. The Orphanage is one of those movies where another viewing actually increased my appreciation of it. THIS is how genre films are supposed to be made and first time director J.A. Bayona deserves a shit-ton of credit. Since Guillermo Del Toro has his name attached as producer, that’s who most people associate with this project, but The Orphanage is all Bayona.

I remember the first time I saw it, I thought it a bit slow at points, but on subsequent viewings, I found that not to be the case at all. I was entranced by the attention to detail and realized that not a frame is wasted. Masterful storytelling is employed here with much being told visually. Even the score is often low-key, letting the action onscreen lead and not the other way around.

"I believe 'fucking creepy' is the phrase you are groping for."

The Orphanage has the uncanny ability to be scary - I still can’t watch the ‘1-2-3 knock on the wall’ sequence without involuntarily holding my breath – and yet somehow shift at the drop of a hat, to be quite touching. BelĂ©n Rueda is fantastic as the mother figure in the film. She’s in almost every scene and just nails it.

On Blu-ray, the film just SHINES. It is definitely one of the best transfers I have seen to date and the sound (utilizing new fangled DTS-HD) is superb, whether it’s rumbling thunder or every little creak in that old house. Anyone who says Hi-Def is overrated might want to take a gander at this and then adroitly shut the hell up. There is about an hour’s worth of featurettes on the disc that are pretty much the standard talking heads stuff, but just the movie itself is money well spent in my opinion.

Fans of horror films with substance (or just films in general) are doing themselves a disservice by not checking out The Orphanage, Blu-ray or otherwise.


Jeff, Dude of Horror said...

I haven't seen the Blu-Ray transfer, but I had to laugh at "Anyone who says Hi-Def is overrated might want to take a gander at this and then adroitly shut the hell up." Classic!

This guy has a great page which shows how much better the Blu-Ray version of Underworld is vs. the DVD release.

I have this one a 4/5 on my site, but only because my rating is a "genre rating". Out of the context of "horror" I think this film is drop-dead awesome.

Jay Clarke said...

Very cool. Thanks for the link. Underworld 2 was one of the first Blu-ray's I ever saw. Kate in SD is stunning, but Kate in HD is simply magical!