The Orphanage (El Orfanato)
Plotline: As a little girl, Laura grew up in an orphanage--as an adult, she returns with her family to the very same orphanage to live. When her child vanishes one day, without even a single clue as to his disappearance, she begins to unearth horrific truths about the orphanage, and about her son's whereabouts.
Scariness factor: Wow. In all honesty: This is the CREEPIEST movie I've seen in YEARS. It's old-school, haunted house, goddamn spooky, jump-in-your-seat-and-turn-all-your-lights-on scary.
Gross-Out Factor: There is only one scene that is sticking out in my head, and it's moreso creeps than gross.
Complaints: None nada nil.
High Points: Spookiest movie I've seen in years. Hand's down. It's so nice to stumble across a horror flick every once in a while where the writer/director just 100% GET it--they understand what makes a horror film spooky. And this is one such film. The acting is FANTASTIC. The story is wonderfully-written. It reminds me of when I used to read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series when I was little--there's that recognition that what is so damn scary about a story is so often that it is unapologetic in the twists and turns it takes, and in the dark ways that it ends itself. There are scenes in here that will TERRIFY the SHIT out of you. And so MANY of them. The scene with the medium is one such example--flawless. And there are a couple other scenes too--which I won't delve into, lest I give them away--where you will be all white-knuckled and realize you're holding your breath. The cinematography is GORGEOUS in here. And the film is subtle--it doesn't overdo ANYthing. It takes tiny steps, and it takes them carefully, and in doing so, it builds up some killer suspense and spookiness. Seriously a fantastic ghost story, one reminiscent of such greats as the original The Haunting.
Overall: How you know a horror film has truly succeeded--later in the night, when you find yourself walking through your apartment with your lights out, you feel that nervous horribleness creep up on you to the point of suffocation, causing you to scurry over and turn your lights on. Truly the best ghost story I've seen in years. I highly highly recommend. Yesterday, I said to add Infection to your list--today, I say: If you can only watch one horror film this Halloween season, fuck Infection. Let it be this one.