Excuses are my speciality. For example, part of the reason I’m the worst blogger in the world this month is I’m working on a challenging revision. And part of the reason the revision is challenging is a new point of view I’m having to write from. I chose to write from this point of view both because it was challenging and pivotal. The character is central, a catalyst, and I think he’s freakin’ adorable. But that’s neither here nor there. Mostly, I’m using him as an excuse to lead in to a blog post about a film I love and how point of view changes everything. Sorry, Kaspar. You are freakin’ adorable, though.
I first saw The Orphanage after watching an incredibly disappointing horror movie and deciding to begin a new quest for high quality horror. The Orphanage was the first film I tried, and I didn’t have to look any further. It was chilling and powerful in that way that keeps you up all night, thinking.
I was so haunted by the film, I started looking up interviews and extra information on it, and what I learned about its conception taught me something about my own writing: story may be king, but point of view is… the pope or something. On his inspiration for The Orphanage writer Sergio G. Sánchez said, “My influences were more literary. One of them was Peter Pan. Basically, it was just that picture of Wendy’s mother sitting by the window waiting for her child. That’s the spark that ignited everything. I was thinking, it would be really interesting to tell the story of Peter Pan from the point of view of the mother.”
Think about that for a second. From Wendy’s point of view, the story of Peter Pan is a great adventure, sometimes terrifying, sometimes exhilarating, but an adventure still. From the point of view of her mother, Peter Pan becomes a horror story. Can you fathom how terrifying it would be for any parent? You brush off your children’s stories about an imaginary friend who comes to visit them through their window every night as normal childhood whimsy, only to find, one night, their window flung open, their beds empty. I can’t imagine it, but that’s exactly what Sánchez does. Never mind the little classic “horror” moments sprinkled throughout the film; The Orphanage is terrifying because of the point of view.
If you can handle any amount of horror, I highly recommend you see The Orphanage. It is beautiful, touching, terrifying, and strange. I’ve not seen another film quite like it. I even question whether marketing it as pure horror really did it justice. It’s not your classic teen slasher flick. It’s more elegant than your typical supernatural horror movie or your psychological thriller. There are moments where you can feel the not-so-subtle hand of someone who said, “let’s make this appeal to horror movie fans, K?” but overall, the piece is stunning. And if it doesn’t make you think about the story of Peter Pan in a whole new light, you just weren’t paying attention.