Monday, January 4, 2010

Mark Pellington helming The Orphanage remake.

I'm not entirely sure that The Orphanage needs an English-language remake. It's a moody tone poem, not terribly visceral and (with one early exception) relatively subtle in its scares. But no matter, hopefully the hub-bub over Mark Pellington's hiring will bring new viewers to his previous work. While his theatrical filmography as a director is relatively light, there are two under-seen gems that absolutely deserve to be rediscovered.

First off is the white-knuckle thriller, Arlington Road. Starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack, this 1999 summer flop played on fears of homegrown terrorism. It stars Bridges's somewhat paranoid college professor, who still mourns the death of his wife, a federal agent who was killed in a Waco/Ruby Ridge-type siege. The plot kicks in when he begins to suspect that his new neighbors (Robbins and Cusack) may be plotting some kind of nefarious scheme against these United States. No fair telling how it turns out (avoid the spoiler-ific trailer), but the movie is a terrifically entertaining, wonderfully acted 1970s-type thriller.

The other major film on Pellington's resume, probably the one that got him the Orphanage gig, is the little-seen chiller The Mothman Prophecies. Released in the winter of 2002, this 'based on a true story' horror flick is actually less kooky than the alleged actual events (which I recall seeing on Unsolved Mysteries). It basically involves journalist Richard Gere who travels to a small West Virginia town to track down the origins of a strange moth creature image that his late wife saw before she died. Again, no need to spoil what happens next, but the film has a great cast (Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing) and a slow-burn intensity that really gets under your skin if you let it.
The Mothman Prophecies is available on a special edition DVD and Arlington Road is available on Blu Ray. So grab a copy of the original Orphanage and pick up these two forgotten gems.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Sean G said...

It's hard to imagine a remake of "The Orphanage" getting the movie right. The original was very subtle and low-key, as you said, and it seems unlikely that Hollywood won't try to spice it up a bit.

For some reason, this makes me cringe in the same way that I cringe when thinking of the upcoming US remake of "Let The Right One In."


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