Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Spain/Mexico, 2001. El Deseo, Tequila Gang, Sogepaq, Canal+ Espana, Anhelo Producciones. Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Munoz. Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro. Produced by Agustín Almodóvar, Bertha Navarro. Music by Javier Navarrete. Production Design by Cesar Macarron. Costume Design by Jose Vico. Film Editing by Luis de la Madrid. Toronto International Film Festival 2001.
Exciting and stylish ghost story from Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos, Mimic) about strange goings on in an orphanage in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Young Carlos, recently orphaned though he doesn’t know it yet, has been sent to this forgotten institution in the middle of nowhere to be kept safe for at least a short period of time. Upon arrival, Carlos is harassed by the dormitory bully, terrified by the unexploded missile in the middle of the courtyard and harassed by strange voices and occasional appearances of a spirit. The film is exquisitely photographed, with brilliant makeup design and visual effects, but what really puts it at that perfect level between realistic drama and jump-out-of-your-seat scariness is the incredibly good character development in Del Toro’s screenplay. As the main heads of the orphanage, Federico Luppi and Marisa Paredes are outstanding, while Eduardo Noriega is perfect as the sexy but perhaps villainous hired hand.