On Wednesday, I finally got round to watching The Orphanage on Blu-ray. I knew next to nothing about the film beforehand, so was very pleased to discover an excellent piece of work, definitely one of the best horror films I’ve seen recently and every bit as good as, if not better than, the other recent film to bear Guillermo Del Toro’s name, Pan’s Labyrinth (although he mere produced The Orphanage, which was in fact directed by a fellow called J.A. Bayona). I highly recommend checking out this film if you haven’t seen it yet - an imaginative and highly effective take on the “spooky old house” and “creepy child” sub-genres.
The Blu-ray release, unfortunately, is marred by the fact that it appears to have been taken from a source with a horizontal resolution of less than 1920 pixels. A certain blockiness is evident throughout in diagonal edges, which take on a stair-stepped quality: look, for example, at Fernando Cayo’s nose in Shot 7 and Mabel Rivera’s cheek in Example 9. Basically, it’s like a less extreme version of the effect visible in Warner’s early so-called “1080i upconverted” transfers. It’s not dreadful, and it’s somewhat ironic that the end result actually looks somewhat better than the full 1920x1080 The Golden Compass in all its noise reduced glory, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. New Line’s HD output, so far, has been pretty problematic to say the least, and it’s a shame (but not entirely surprising) that reviewers haven’t been picking up on these faults.
(New Line, USA, VC-1, 26.1 GB)