The Orphanage: Imprint Collection #256 [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Via Vision
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (13th November 2023).
The Film

"The Orphanage", directed by J.A. Bayona and produced by Guillermo del Toro, stands as a masterpiece in Spanish cinema, blending elements of horror, mystery, and drama into a captivating and emotionally charged narrative. Released in 2007, this film has rightfully earned its place as a modern classic, leaving a lasting impression on audiences worldwide.

Set against the haunting backdrop of an abandoned orphanage, the film follows Laura (Belén Rueda), who returns to her childhood home with her husband and adopted son. Intent on reopening the orphanage to provide a haven for disabled children, Laura's dreams soon take a chilling turn as her son begins to communicate with seemingly invisible companions.

One of the film's notable strengths lies in its atmospheric brilliance. Bayona's direction, coupled with cinematographer Oscar Faura's deft touch, creates an eerie and suspenseful ambiance that permeates every frame. The dilapidated orphanage becomes a character in itself, harboring secrets and whispers of the past, heightening the tension and drawing viewers into its mysterious depths.

At the film's core is Belén Rueda's outstanding performance as Laura. Her portrayal is nuanced and emotionally charged, effectively conveying the anguish, fear, and determination her character experiences throughout the story. Rueda's ability to evoke empathy makes the audience invest deeply in the unfolding narrative, turning "The Orphanage" into more than just a horror film—it's a poignant exploration of maternal love and loss.

The narrative itself is a testament to the film's prowess. Sergio G. Sánchez's screenplay is a carefully crafted blend of psychological horror and poignant drama. The story unfolds with a delicate balance, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats while also tugging at their heartstrings. As the mysteries surrounding the orphanage and its spectral inhabitants unravel, the film weaves a complex tapestry of emotions, leaving a profound impact on the viewer.

The film also benefits from Guillermo del Toro's influence as a producer, evident in the film's attention to detail and commitment to storytelling. The special effects are seamlessly integrated, enhancing the supernatural elements without overshadowing the human drama at the film's core. Del Toro's touch adds a layer of authenticity to the film's fantastical elements.

Some may argued that the film followed certain conventional horror tropes and had a somewhat predictable plot, which is mostly true and the pacing can be slow for some viewers. The film's "atmosphere" does some heavy lifting here, but personally I'm totally ok with a slow burn. Not everyone is going to engage with the film but for those that do it's a solid entry into the genre.

"The Orphanage" is full of atmospheric brilliance, compelling performances, and a narrative that seamlessly blends terror with genuine human emotion, the film leaves an indelible mark on its audience. A cinematic gem despite some shortfalls, "The Orphanage" is a must-watch for anyone seeking a haunting and emotionally resonant film experience.


Presented in widescreen 2.35:1 HD 1080p 24/fps mastered using AVC MPEG-4 compression. This transfer comes from a 2K scan of the film. The film's packaging included logos for Lionsgate so it's possible this scan was provided by them. Not sure why they went with 2K when the standard these days is 4K, but in saying that the image looks pretty good. Blacks are deep and feature no significant noise. Colors look vibrant and rich and there appears to be some film grain retained. Detail looks good, whites can seem a little blown out but this may be intentional. It's a decent image that could be considered the best possible transfer for this film.


Three audio tracks are included in Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and Spanish LPCM 2.0 Stereo. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 7.1 track. The dialogue is clean and clear, but what truly shines is the immersive surround activity. This film replies heavily on its atmosphere and the audio is a wonderful reflection of that. You won't be disappointed.
Optional subtitles are included in English.


Imprint has licsenced the most complete set of supplements from various overseas editions and also included a couple of exclusive and new features. Below is a closer look.


First up is a feature-length audio commentary by author Xavier Aldana Reyes, Reyes specializes in Gothic and horror film and fiction, their histories, industries and socio-political work and offers a very interesting track that cover the themes of the genre and on the film's narrative structure and importance to Spanish horror among other things.

"Small Spectres & Uncanny Children in J.A. Bayona 's The Orphanage" video essay by author Miranda Corcoran (20:30), this is a newly produced extra that takes a closer look at the central role of children in horror films and how they apply to "The Orphanage".

"Guilt as Identity in The Orphanage" video essay by film scholar Dr. Rachel Knightley (13:30), this newly produced extra takes a closer look at the role of guilt in horror films and how the characters in the film process their thoughts and feelings about trauma among other things.

Interview with director J.A. Bayona and Guillermo del Toro (8:41), in Spanish with English subtitles, these two sit in an editing suite and talk about the film, its characters, the narrative, on where the idea for the film came from, etc.

A series of 9 deleted scenes are included and play in a reel, below are the individual scenes that were cut:

– "Alternative Ending" (2:45)
– "Alternative Opening" (4:07)
– "Tomas's Den" (1:51)
– "With Benigna" (2:55)
– "At the Police Station" (1:13)
– "The Swing Scene" (1:47)
– "Extended Argument Scene" (2:44)
– "Blind Party Scene" (0:54)
– "Extended Cave Scene" (1:13)

3 storyboard comparisons feature a scene and a look at the storyboards that accompany them, they include:

– "The Seance" (2:32)
– "The Treasure Hunt" (2:03)
– "Tomas Appears" (1:44)

"Shooting the Credits" featurette (2:33) takes a short look at the making of the stylized credit sequence for the film.

US teaser trailer (0:48) included as well as the US theatrical trailer (1:58)

Spanish teaser trailer (0:44) and Spanish theatrical trailer (2:11)


"When Laura Grew Up: Constructing the Orphanage" featurette (17:38) that clip takes a look at the characters and how they interact with the primary location that is the orphanage in the film.

"Tomas’ Secret Room: The Filmmakers" featurette (10:43) this takes a closer look at Bayona's experience as a filmmaker and how the collaborators all working together for the first time, on making the score, the film's set, the digital effects used in the film, and the unique credit sequence and where the idea came from.

"Horror in the Unknown: The Make-Up Effects" featurette (9:23) takes a closer look at the practical nature of the make up used in the film.

"Rehearsal Studio: Cast Auditions and Table Read" featurette (3:43) takes a look at how the actors and director prepared themselves for production by spending time rehearsing and going through the script scene by scene.

"Making-of The Orphanage" featurette (12:37) this is the standard EPK clip that features talking heads of the primary people involved.

"Sets" featurette (2:40) takes a look at the elaborate sets designed and created for the film.

"The Sound of Séance" featurette (7:07) takes a look at the sound design for the film and how the filmmakers put an emphasis on creating the eerie atmosphere.

"Animatics" featurette (9:04) This takes a look at the level of detail and planning the filmmakers undertook on certain sequences in the film.

"Lightning the Darkness" featurette (5:36) takes a look at the cinematography for the film and on designing the lighting and mood of the film.

"Roger Príncep's: The Casting" featurette (9:12) takes a look at the casting and rehearsal process for the child actor in the film.

"Projections" featurette (4:02) are the projected elements from the film presented here.

"Q&A with J.A. Bayona" interview (42:34) from a film festival screen this is a Q&A with the usual questions that get asked, like the background of the film and on trivia based on the making of it.

Includes a booklet with "Familiar Spirits: Motherhood and the Supernatural in J.A. Bayona 's The Orphanage" by writer/producer Francesco Massaccesi.


Packaged in two keep cases housed in a top-loading hard box case and is a Limited Edition of 1500 copies.


The film may be worth it for genre fans, but you'll have to get past the hefty price tag. This Limited Edition set retails for $80 AUD, so dropping that plus whatever shipping can be considerable. The extras are plentiful but some are a bit repetitive.

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A Extras: B- Overall: B+


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