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Orphan (2009)

Esther

There's something wrong with Esther.

Starring:

Aryana Engineer

CCH Pounder

Genelle Williams

Isabelle Fuhrman

Jaime Young

Jimmy Bennett

Karel Roden

Karel Roden

Peter Sarsgaard

Vera Farmiga

Directed by:

Jaume Collet Serra

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 123 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: Canada, Germany, France, United States

A trailer that breeds apathy and a director who was responsible for Goal II and giving us Paris Hilton in House of Wax, were never going to get the crowds flocking to see Orphan at the cinema. I reluctantly went to see it and was pleasantly surprised by a well-crafted horror film with plenty of drama.

The film centres around the Coleman family. Ever since the death of their third child during childbirth, Kate and John have wanted another child. Deciding to adopt an older child they meet the seemingly precious, mature and artistic Esther at an orphanage and take her back to join them at their home with their two children, the deaf Max (Engineer) and stroppy teenager Daniel (Bennett). Things start becoming apparent to the mother that all is not right with her adoptive daughter and that she may be a danger to those around her. A smirking Esther bludgeoning a pigeon to death with a stone was my first clue. Watching events like this I didn’t know whether to laugh or be disgusted – I chose the former as the whole thing was like a real-life Chucky movie. Vera Farmiga is easily the star of the show as Esther. She glides around the screen showing her dexterity as she morphs from a sickly sweat little girl to creepy-looking pre-teen psychopath in no time.

The back story of the family is brilliantly layered as we learn of their faults – alcoholism and infidelity – but also of their traits as a decent, loving family trying to get through some tough times. This becomes important as they fight for their lives as it is easy to care about them, unlike the usual beautiful teenagers we see screaming around the screen being gored in the most horrific of ways.

In rather twisted way I enjoyed watching the nine year old Esther effortlessly sneaking around killing anyone who steps in her way and then framing her adoptive family like a seasoned serial killing pro. I wanted to know what had made her so angry to do this and how she had learned to do it. With bated breath I waited for the twist at the end and then, Bang! Instant disappointment. Resentment and annoyance followed. I’m not going to reveal the twist, that would be unfair to the five year old who thought it up, but I will say that I sat through the last twenty minutes like a infant who’d just been told that Santa Claus didn’t exist – utterly deflated and with a feeling of being lied to.

It's Got: Good characterisation and drama, an incredibly creepy nine year old, the odd bit of humour

It Needs: A better twist.

Alternatives:

The Bride of Chucky, The Exorcist, The Omen

Summary

A really well made creepy horror that lets itself down at the end.

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