With Guillermo del Toro's name plastered all over the front cover of The Orphanage it's easy to forget that he was only a producer. Easy to forget because, if you didn't know otherwise, you'd assume it was from the mind of Mr Pan's Labyrinth. It's advertised as a horror, but I'm convinced that it's a drama. Laura and her husband Carlos return, with their son Simón, to the orphanage where Laura spent her childhood. Yes, already that sounds scary, and the fact that Simón begins to see 'imaginary' children roaming the halls doesn't help to prove my point. The film, as I see it, is about family and the search for a missing child. When Laura is confronting the ghosts of the house, she is not confronting evil demons that want to hurt her, but parts of her past that she has to deal with. The perceived threat helps the drama along and doesn't overpower it, bringing up themes of childhood loss and transience. It builds to an emotionally confusing ending that J.A Bayona (the director) handles wonderfully. It's a ghost story, not a horror film - creepy and poignant, not scary. Calling it a horror is like saying Pan's Labyrinth is an action film. In other words, completely missing the point.
That said, when I watched it with friends they said it was 'the scariest thing they'd ever seen'. So, you know, maybe I'm wrong.