A Spanish movie in Spanish, directed by Guillermo Del Toro. This movie is a microcosm of the Spanish Civil War in the genre of horror/melodrama.

It's a ghost story about events culminating on a night that can only be described as fateful, and the effects of that culmination. At an orphanage run by an old Doctor and a war widow, a bomb falls into the yard, along with a heavy rain, but fails to explode.

The sole witness, a young boy, says nothing.

Some time later, a child new to the orphanage tries to adjust to his surroundings. He begins to see what he suspects is a ghost, that the other children call the "one who sighs". This is pretty scary.

As the movie progresses, the angles, motivations, and interactions become more apparent and tangible, along with our ghost.

The story is engrossing, the direction is good, and the acting is pretty excellent. The children are good enough that I never really noticed, though they are the center of the film. Never falsely frightening, it stays moody and atmospheric, and the suspense always stems from real sources, not gimicky special effects or scary music. Neither does the symbolism ever become overt or too heavy.

I speak no Spanish, but that never got in the way, because everything important was contained in the visuals, and the emotions were real and universal. That's not to say that the dialogue is bad or unimportant, the first words of the movie had me riveted.

Overall, a pretty damned good film that shows you what Guillermo del Toro can do, especially in contrast to such movies as Blade II and Mimic.

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