Friday, 7 August 2009
As studio horror movies go, this one has been met with slightly less venom then most, and with good reason. Its not Shakespeare but its creepy, keeps the ridiculousness to a manageable dose and contains some good performances. Always welcome in a horror film. Its the kind of low-key horror that studios should do more often, as it even follows formula but still entertains.
The plot sees relatively normal parents Kate and John, who seek to adopt a child after they lose their third baby in childbirth. So naturally they choose Esther, a smart charming little girl and start the happy life together. But given that isn't a family movie starring Kate Hudson, of course Esther turns out to be one evil motherfucker. To its credit, the film does not skimp on Esther's character making her more of a sociopath then a psychopath. Meaning she is a hell of a strategist to go with all her crazy. This is definitely more interesting to watch as a viewer then the usual standard of brainless killing machine. Orphan though, is another in the long line of movies dealing with the idea of home intrusion, or if you will the corruption of the family unit. Like the Omen, or the Exorcist, the film deals with the idea of a malovent force consuming the family from the inside out. Except the villainy here is all too human. This film does not compare to those in quality though, and though it certainly has its moments and at times delves into the realm of the fucked up, its still relatively predictable and falls victim to that post-2000 horror film craze of the outlandish twist in the last reel (Fuck you M Night Shyamalan). It was unnecessary and in many ways a cop out. Similarly the ending is certainly a little hackneyed, just basically another housebound stalk and slash and arguably this movie deserved better. Director Jaume-Collet-Serra overdoes the jump musical cues and then some, and couldn't keep his visual trigger finger in check, meaning many sequences suffer from visual overkill. The best thing about the movie though is the acting. Or more specifically the one performance. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are fine enough as the parents. But the movie belongs to 12 year old Isabelle Fuhrman, who makes Esther a more menacing threat then one could have imagined from the trailer. Its a career making performance, or at least it should be. And for the record, this is what a good performance from a child looks like fans of Harry Potter. It can be done.
So, come for the creepy kid. Whose one of the more memorable creepy kids of recent cinematic history. And given the amount there has been that is saying something.