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Gore Orphanage (2015)

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Gore Orphanage

gore orphanage 240x300 - Gore Orphanage (2015)Starring Maria Olsen, William Townsend, Emma Leigh Smith

Directed by Emily Lapisardi


To begin this review, I’d like to admit that I’d never even heard of the real-life horror that occurred at Gore Orphanage in Vermilion, Ohio – according to local legend, the orphanage suffered a terrible fire back in the 1800s, killing numerous children and one adult – hauntings have reportedly surfaced over many years, and multiple historians have dispelled the stories, nonetheless making for an interesting film premise.

Added to this, the Mary Bell murders of 1968 have been incorporated into a film that looked as if it was going to deliver the goods but instead made me read the newspaper articles over again for a real chill.

First-time director Emily Lapisardi presents Gore Orphanage, a tale regarding the abovementioned tragedy back in the old days and intertwined with Mary Bell’s appalling crimes. The setting is 1930s Ohio, and we’re introduced to a young girl named Nellie (Smith), who is being brought to the orphanage after a family tragedy has occurred, leaving her without her mother and father. Mrs. Pryor (Olsen) is the group home’s den-mother of sorts, and right off the bat this woman has a mug that exudes malignity – just wanted to put that out there. Her motives are strictly to use the home as some sort of a cash cow, having inherited it in her father’s will – brutality and bullying are her tactics for discipline and enjoyment, and you get the feeling that she’s going to get what’s coming to her… hopefully.

Upon her arrival, Nellie strikes up a friendship with a couple of other children, Esther and Buddy, and the dormitory’s assistant-in-charge, Miss Lillian (Keri Maletto), whose doe-eyed trance-like state honestly did come off a little frightening (maybe it was just me).

Something is clearly on the dirty level at the orphanage, and it ain’t the food! Bill Townsend’s role of Ernst, the maintenance man, simply chilled me to the bone – it’s implied at times that he might be molesting some of the kids, and even though there weren’t any scenes of the unlawful acts, you just got that slimy dumpster juice feel whenever he popped up on the screen, and I can certainly applaud an actor for just having the chops to radiate such a deplorable similitude when in front of the camera.

As the movie unfortunately dragged along, the audience got to witness just how wretched the atmosphere in the orphanage was, with uniformed eating and sleeping patterns being applied to the children, and harsh disciplinary actions being doled out to those who dared to cross the line (and for some who didn’t). Flashes of brilliance from Lapisardi are observed with a few scenes where the kids were allowed to be kids when the evil Mrs. Pryor stepped away from the sightline, and how their happiness went swirling down the hopper when she returned – something so simply shot can result in a great scene of filmmaking, I don’t care how much (or how little) dough is dumped into the project. Alas, what could have been transformed into a straight-up mental twister of a thriller slides down that slippery crap-slope into useless violence in the hopes of reeling in the crowd, and that’s where I almost tuned out.

What could have been just missed the mark, which is unfortunate because for using a cast consisting mainly of small children, the performances weren’t half-bad – usual clunkiness abounds, but nothing is terribly detrimental to the overall look and feel of the film.

In closing, Gore Orphanage is at BEST a one-time visit, but I damn sure wouldn’t want to be a long-time resident… that Mrs. Pryor, she scares me.  Now, where’s my teddy bear?

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User Rating 3.64 (11 votes)
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