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'The Orphanage'

A young mom and her family move into a dark, brooding country estate and act out a horror-movie version of Peter Pan. Once they're settled in, memories come flooding back — of children who stay forever young in memory, who seem not quite of this world, who just want to play. And they want new playmates.

Mom, it turns out, grew up on the estate, which was then an orphanage, and remembers vaguely that kids kept disappearing. When her son, who has a terminal illness they've not told him about, also vanishes, Laura gets a bad feeling. Consulting with a police psychologist — and a psychic — she gets very different answers as to what might have happened, then comes up with her own answer. Produced by Guillermo (Pan's Labyrinth) del Toro and directed by newcomer Juan Antonio Bayona, the picture is a creepily effective exercise in gothic technique.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.