Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Tom Hardy Met Mel Gibson And Made Him A Bracelet, Says Michael Fassbender Was "The Sh*t" In School Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Native Actors Walk Off Set Of Adam Sandler's 'Ridiculous 6' Over Disrespectful, Insulting Script Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Watch: Johnny Depp Rages As Whitey Bulger In First Trailer For Gangster Tale 'Black Mass' Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' And More Added To Cannes Film Festival Lineup First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' First Look: Johnny Depp Goes Gangster In As Whitey Bulger In 'Black Mass' Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Watch: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, Michael Fassbender And More Talk The Art Of Acting Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Review: Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Starring Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson & More Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Watch: Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, And More Talk The Art Of Filmmaking Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's Favorite Sequence From His Movies Is The Airplane Kidnapping Scene From 'The Dark Knight Rises' Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking Joss Whedon Calls Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' "The Best Script Marvel Ever Had," Warns Of Serialized Moviemaking The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 The 41 Most Anticipated Movies Of Summer 2015 Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Teaser For 'Star Wars: Rogue One,' Plot Details Confirmed Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Watch: First Trailer For 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Brings Two Comic Book Legends Together Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films Martin Scorsese's List Of 85 Must-See Films The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 10 Best & 5 Worst Cannes Film Festival Openers Ever The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Halloween Feature: 10 Haunted House Films You'll Never Forget

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist October 29, 2010 at 3:32AM

11

"The Orphanage" (2007)
The niftiest aspect of "The Orphanage," an uncannily good Spanish haunted house movie directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and produced by genre favorite Guillermo del Toro, is that, at its heart, it's a rather old-fashioned melodrama that just so happens to be wrapped inside of a ghost story. It's like "The Shining" meets "All That Heaven Allows," with an emphasis on repressed psychological trauma. Laura (Belen Rueda from "The Sea Inside") decides, for perverse reasons that pay off dramatically, to purchase the orphanage where she grew up (since then, she has adopted a young boy) and refurbish it, to give other unfortunates a chance at a normal upbringing. Of course, the ghosts of the past, both literal (a small, sack-faced boy named Tomas that looks like a nightmare creation out of "Little Big Planet") and metaphoric (said traumas) spring up almost immediately. What follows is equal parts tragedy and boo-gasp horror (there are a couple of moments that will elicit audible screams from even the most hardened moviegoer). The movie has a melancholic feel of resignation and an absolutely heartbreaking final act, where what may have seemed like cheap scares early on pay off beautifully. "The Orphanage," artfully directed by Bayona in muted colors and embellished with a suitably haunting score by Fernando Valazquez, is a slow-burn of a haunted house movie, as emotionally engaging as it is terrifying, and a genuine modern classic in the genre.

Honorable Mentions:
"The Orphanage" isn't the only recent film to take a spin at the genre: although the likes of "The Haunting in Connecticut" aren't really worth mentioning, del Toro himself produced an excellent example in "The Devil's Backbone," while Alejandro Amenabar's "The Others" is terrific too. The John Cusack vehicle "1408" is pretty decent as well, even if it loses its way near the end, while some on staff have a soft spot for Walter Salles' "Dark Water." Further back, the original "The Amityville Horror" is worth a look, while the original "Evil Dead" is more of a haunted house film than a zombie picture. 1981's "The Entity," with Barbara Hershey, and the 1980 Canadian flick "The Changeling," with an excellent central performance from George C. Scott, are both worth a look as well. And for lighter takes on spooky happenings, Neil Jordan's "High Spirits" is deeply flawed, but enjoyable, and Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" is probably the definitive haunting comedy.

-- Gabe Toro, Jessica Kiang, Drew Taylor, Adam Sweeney, Mark Zhuravsky, Danielle Johnsen, Oliver Lyttelton

This article is related to: Feature, Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates