The Orphanage



Warning – probably contains very slight spoilers that would irritate someone as sensitive as I am to them (despite the fact I’ve tried to eradicate them where possible and don’t want to spoil it for anyone).

Glaring plot-holes abound in this moderately entertaining but not-quite-horrific-enough-to-be-called-a-horror movie. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this was always going to be better than your average heebie-jeebie unsettler – but first time Director J. A. Bayona doesn’t seem to have read his own script through properly, as several scratch-your-head issues aren’t cleared up come the credits.

I watched those gasbags on Newsnight Review going on about how this was a meditation on maternal and paternal fears and discussing how it really gave them the jitters. Apparently the idea of being separated from your child is a concept Mark Kermode, an Evening Standard editor and the host bloke who’s not as good as Kirsty Wark can’t stomach. Well I haven’t got any kids, so I actually felt the adopted parents of Simon were bloody lucky to have got shot of the little swine. He looked exactly like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years – and the similarity was completely distracting for the casual viewer. I can’t imagine what it must have been like having to look after the poor sod with that hanging around his neck.

The plotting problems kick in late on in the picture, which is annoying, as up to then everything’s set up for a cracking finale. Creeping unease and nasty indications of what’s to come crop up when Tomas – a nasty little bag-headed ghost – shows up intermittently and a very upsetting incident occurs in town – of which I’ll say no more. But we could’ve done with more of that-type-of-thing. It left unshiftable skids on my Y fronts.

And so to the glaring plot-holes. I’m going resolutely spoiler-free with this review so I’ll not be specific but – when the climax starts unravelling – if you’re an active observer rather than the sort of cinema-goer who swallows everything they see like so much sugared, overpriced popcorn, you’ll be turning to others and saying ‘Now hang on a minute…’ as three or four clear errors aren’t addressed in favour of a schmaltzy (if slightly morbid) ending.

Interestingly, Kermode was asked by a listener to Simon Mayo’s radio show about one of these inconsistencies (the wallpaper one) and his response was along the lines of ‘I’ll email the enquirer to tell them, but I shan’t say as it’ll ruin the film for others’. Well, Kermode: I don’t believe you can explain it as it doesn’t make any sense. Feel free to mail WWM and tell me why I’m wrong.

Still – worth seeing. And apologies if my tentative dance around plot details has spilled into spoiler territory. I’m glad I don’t do this for a living, it’s like working on a knife edge between being a cultural observer and a spoilsport shitbag.

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15 Responses to “The Orphanage”

  1. Rosszszsss Says:

    You pointed the wallpaper one out to me, cos before that I’d watched the film through the holes in my jumper, so scared was I, and not noticed the obvious flaw, and I’ve posited it to a couple of other people since, and they had no answer. Either Kermode is exceedingly clever or FULL OF SHIT.

  2. Swineshead Says:

    So come on Kermode – let’s have you!


  3. Rosszszsss Says:

    AND Kermode has had no problems with issuing major spoilers in the past. When Sixth Sense was on telly, he did the intro and actually SAID WHAT THE TWIST WAS.

    Obviously most people in the western world knew by that point, but still…

  4. Swineshead Says:

    I think he’s apologised for that…

    I guessed the twist before I even saw it – the fact the kid said ‘I see dead people’ in the trailer sort of gave it away. You were only one mental process away before the cinema went dark, let’s be honest.

  5. Swineshead Says:

    I think Kermode’s silence speaks VOLUMES. So that’s that.

  6. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    Either that, or he doesn’t waste his time reading this rubbish. Too busy styling his hair into the same ponderous quiff he’s had for donkey’s years, waffling on about The Exorcist, and being a shit film critic for poncey newspapers and TV review gasbaggery shows.

    Kermode’s an ass. AN ASS.

    This film sounds shite, by the way.

  7. Swineshead Says:

    It’s alright… and you’ve expressed your views on the Kermode before, I seem to recall.

  8. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    His ass-like nature needs constant exposure, in my ‘umble opinion.

  9. Swineshead Says:

    I think he’s a good critic but only because i tend to agree with him. If I didn’t I’d also think he was an ass.

    Is it possible to have a favourite critic? It must be a pain in the arse to get paid to have a definite opinion. One of the best things in life is to be indifferent to stuff you couldn’t give a shit about. Like Grand Designs or Skins. Or Holby.

  10. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I reckon it is possible to have a favourite critic. I’ve always enjoyed Joe Queenan’s stuff, though he is, of course, still an ass (like your Kermode). I read some o’ that Charlie Brooker you recommended, and thought he was a sort of Queenan-lite. Mind you, he’s popular too, and would probably get a lot of folks’ vote for favourite critic. So, yes, I think it is possible.

    Nobody would nominate that shower who used to be on that show with her with the big red 80s glasses. That cunt Lawson, that cunt Parsons, and that cunt Paulin. That lot. Nobody would nominate that pack of up-their-own-backsides rats.

    Except Piqued, o’course.

  11. Rosszszsss Says:

    Nancy Banks-Smith is great…

  12. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    Nancy who?

  13. extremelisteningmode Says:

    I like Kermode, but not as much as he likes himself, and that’s the problem!

  14. Plot Twist Says:


    on the wallpaper – the hole for the doorknob was already there – the ripping was done to effect also the door was wallpapered but still opens without ripping, so was meant to be tomas’ hidden place and not his prison.

  15. Swineshead Says:

    That doesn’t make sense though, PT – as the doorknob wasn’t in the slot (in fact was in another part of the house entirely) when the boy died or was found, so did Tomas hide it? If so, that stretches credibility to breaking point for me…

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