Academy Award winner Renée
Zellweger stars in this terrifying supernatural thriller about
a social worker who has been assigned the unusual and disturbing
case of Lillith Sullivan...a girl with a strange and mysterious
past. When Emily opens her home in an attempt to help Lillith,
it turns into a deadly nightmare she may not survive.
The 'creepy kid' horror movie makes a return in director Christian Alvart's long-delayed "Case 39". Though shot before his sci-fi thriller "Pandorum", "Case 39" was released after, languishing in the movie vaults for almost two years. Usually, such news doesn't bode well for a movie- but "Case 39" is that rare movie that makes you wonder why it was given such an unceremonious treatment.
Featuring a post-career high Renee Zellweger, it tells the story of dedicated social worker Emily Jenkins (Zellweger) who takes an unusual concern in a young girl, Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). Emily suspects that Lilith is being abused by her taciturn, sinister parents, so despite the reluctance of her boss (Adrian Lester) to pursue any further, she takes matters into her own hands and enlists the help of a friend, Detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane).
Of course, Lilith is not as simple as she looks and Emily soon realises that she has an "Orphan" girl. Yes, I say "Orphan", because unfortunately for "Case 39", that superior thriller of a chiller from Jaume-Collet Serra was released before it, so comparisons between the two are inevitable. After all, both have as their subject a deceptively innocent demonic-like girl who torments their good-natured caregivers. So if you're looking for any surprises from Ray Wright's script, you're likely to be disappointed.
But "Case 39" is still quite watchable due to Christian Alvart's flair for creating an absorbingly creepy atmosphere throughout. His first studio picture after the highly acclaimed Antikörper (Antibodies), Alvart proves to be a master at establishing a definitive mood for his films. Here, he slowly and effectively builds up the suspense, cranking up the tension until the final reveal- and even though he does resort to jolting 'boo!' moments, it still adds to the overall experience.
Though she's better known for her romantic comedies, Zellweger proves to be able to hold her own in a horror film. Alternating between shock and terror, the actress best remembered for her Bridget Jones days shows that she still has what it takes to deliver a fine performance despite the middling nature of the material. The same however cannot be said of the rest of the cast, who seem content to sleepwalk through the roles, especially a particularly bored-looking Ian McShane.
Certainly, the fault is not really theirs. Ray Wright's material isn’t remarkably exciting, and coming in the wake of the much superior "Orphan", "Case 39" does seem like an unnecessary entry into the oft-done 'demonic kid' picture. But if you don't mind some repetition, you'll find that this isn't the disaster its troubled production history would have suggested. Instead, thanks to deft direction by Christian Alvart, and the always-watchable Renee Zellweger, "Case 39" is good for a few scares- just go in with lowered expectations.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Filed Under Evil: Inside Case 39- The obligatory "making of" documentary where Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland and director Christian Alvart take turns to describe how wonderful the movie was, and how great it was to be working with everyone else on the set.
Turning Up the Heart on the Chill Factor- The first of 3 featurettes on specific scenes in the film, this one is about the extensive makeup that Kerry O'Malley (who plays Lilith's mother) went through to shoot the scene in the film where she combusts.
Inside the Hornet's Nest- Fans of Bradley Cooper, take note. You might just want to check this out. Cooper talks about his most memorable scene in the movie where he is apparently attacked by hornets in the bathroom.
Playing with Fire- How do you set an entire house on fire? The special effects team talk about how they laid out the necessary tools to start the fire that would burn through the whole of Emily Jenkins' house right at the end of the film.
Deleted Scenes- A whopping 18 deleted scenes from the film only proves that the film went through multiple re-cuts before this theatrical edition. Largely redundant, unless you have time to spare.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and makes good use of the back speakers for a surround sound scare. Image is clear and sharp with no visible flaws throughout.
MOVIE RATING :
by Gabriel Chong
on 16 May 2010