Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover at least two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62+ scary movies perfect for a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot features a couple of creepy-ass ghost kids haunting the halls of Spain’s most ancient of orphanages with Juan Antonio Bayona‘s 2007 film, The Orphanage and Guillermo del Toro‘s 2001 film, The Devil’s Backbone.
Executive producer Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) and acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible) present a timeless, atmospheric ghost story that is as melancholy as it is terrifying.
Returning to her childhood home – an ancient, seaside orphanage – Laura (Belén Rueda) and her family unknowingly awaken the long-forgotten spirit of Tomás, an disfigured orphan boy who once lived at the institution. Now, with the disappearance of her son Simón (Roger Príncep), Laura must confront memories of her past before the ghosts of the orphanage overcome her and everything she has ever loved.
That Creepy Scene:
It’s possible that Benigna Escobeda (Montserrat Carulla), a crazy old social worker, may have abducted Laura’s son, Simón. Six months later, Simón is still declared missing. One day, while searching in Northern Spain, Laura and her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) spot Benigna pushing a baby carriage downtown.
As Laura calls out to her, Benigna is suddenly hit by a speeding truck. Laura rushes to Benigna’s carriage, but finds only a doll wearing Tomás’ sack mask. Laura and Carlos assume that Beniga was killed instantly, but as they lean closer – she gasps her dying breath, revealing a mangled, horrific face.
J.A. Bayona has delivered something of a masterpiece with his debut feature-length film. The camera moves in such a way that you anticipate the horror that lies beyond the edge of the frame. At one point we are treated to a silent 16mm reel of film in which we see the dank, dark confines of what appears to be a horribly disfigured boy’s room.
As he sits at a desk drawing, the hand-held camera positioned behind him moves slowly, uneasily even, as it creeps forward. The suspension is so great I feel a clinch in my chest, my mouth goes dry, and spreads to the back of my throat – I lose the ability to gulp.
Though it is the atmosphere of Del Toro’s glossy, horrific The Devil’s Backbone, that gives The Orphanage its foundation – a great screenplay by Sergio G. Sánchez and an amazing cast led by Belén Rueda make this film stand out as a masterful work of horror cinema.
I find myself even now as I write this, years after, searching for a way back to that romantically dreadful atmosphere – filled with creaking stairways and hidden rooms. It makes me think of my own childhood, and how easy it was to believe in the fantastic. The Orphange has captured that magic and mystery of living in the wonderful world of make-believe.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Chronos), The Devil’s Backbone is a chilling, supernatural horror film in the tradition of The Others and The Sixth Sense.
The film follows Carlos (Fernando Tielve), a 12-year-old who has just arrived at Santa Lucia School, a massive stone building (some might consider it a prison) that shelters the orphans from the Republican militia during the last days of the Spanish Civil War.
Carlos strikes up an unlikely friendship with Jaime (Inigo Garces), a boy with a reputation for tormenting the other kids. Carlos and Jaime begin to unravel the dark ties that bind those who live and work together at Santa Lucia: hidden treasures, sexual intrigue, and the restless spirit of a murder student…
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