Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Running Time: 123 minutes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Rating: 5 out of 10
A family adopts a nine year old girl only to realize she is not as sweet as she seems.
Whenever I hear the word orphan all I can think about is a little red headed girl singing It’s a Hard Knock Life. Seeing that this was a horror I dint think too many musical interludes were going to show up in this film. The Orphan is the story of the Coleman family. After the loss of their baby they go out and adopt a 9 year old girl. She seems like a sweet and innocent child but looks can be deceiving.
I wasn’t expecting too much from this film judging by its 2 dollar DVD cover art but surprisingly it wasn’t terrible. In fact if they tweaked a few things this film could have worked. The film starts off right with a pretty creepy and bloody scene of Mrs. Coleman giving birth. From there the movie just provides story, and story, and story, and more story. It goes so long without anything truly frightful happening that one forgets this is supposed to be a thriller. The film takes the usual path of evil child movies. The adoptive child Esther seems super polite and proper at the start but things slowly escalate. She progressively gets worse and plays all the family members off each other. There are some interesting scenes that are very well done though. A scene where a young schoolmate of Esther’s is frightened at a playground shows some original thought by the director. Playgrounds are the last place you would think of being scared at and yet with some cool camera work it turns into a place of terror. There are also some interesting scenes involving a hammer and a box cutter also. Truly this film makes your skin crawl but it is just is too slow and built up for my taste.
Newcomer Isabelle Fuhrman does a great job of playing the adopted kid Esther. She can be disarmingly sweet and then shockingly sinister. She can be polite and respectful and then she can be suddenly dark and abrasive. She makes the movie as good as it is and gives a very adult performance with not that easy of a character. This character is disturbing to watch and that means Fuhrman did her job and did it well. She will be one to notice in the future I think. The other notable performance was Mrs. Coleman played by Vera Farmiga. She plays an emotionally troubled woman that can see the truth of Esther’s evil. Her performance allows for some great scenes of trying to get some answers to all the odd happenings around their house.
Why I liked this film as Esther doesn’t discriminate on who she attacks. Kids are just as liable to get hurt as adults and she has some elaborate plans to tear the Coleman family apart. Also the fact that Esther is so calm while she is being evil just adds to the dark tone of the film. The story does get a little played out as Mr. and Mrs. Coleman constantly fight about old issues that are exacerbated by Esther’s meddling. It is hard to take seriously that Esther could tear them apart so easily that quickly. This film can be shockingly violent and disturbingly creepy but it just never reaches the level that made it truly thrilling. The ending is not the worst except for the police’s terrible response time. Overall I was entertained but not impressed with this film.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra follows up his House of Wax movie with this and it was a decent entry. He uses a good combination of nice camerawork and a great performance by Fuhrman to maximum effect. The film is ultimately too slow and if they could have put in a couple of more scenes of scares then the film would have worked for me. It can be violent and at certain moments brutal but it is not paced very well. With a little editing and a little more thought this film would have been better.
I cannot recommend this film as it is too slow for my taste.
T Factor + If you like horror movies where kids are the antagonists then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like your horror to be fast paced than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film the reel recommendations: The Good Son, The Omen.