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© 2009 Warner Bros

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, CCH Pounder
RunTime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence and Scene of Intimacy)
Official Website: http://www.orphan-movie.com/

Opening Day: 13 August 2009


The tragic loss of their unborn child has devastated Kate and John, taking a toll on both their marriage and Kate's fragile psyche as she is plagued by nightmares and haunted by demons from her past. Struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy in their lives, the couple decides to adopt another child. At the local orphanage, both John and Kate find themselves strangely drawn to a young girl named Esther. Almost as soon as they welcome Esther into their home, however, an alarming series of events begins to unfold, leading Kate to believe that there's something wrong with Esther--this seemingly angelic little girl is not what she appears to be. Concerned for the safety of her family, Kate tries to get John and others to see past Esther's sweet facade. But her warnings go unheeded until it may be too late...for everyone.

Movie Review:

Vera Farmiga plays the aggrieved and mentally unhinged mother of a creepy-cute, murderous sociopathic child again in “Orphan” – less a sequel to “Joshua” and its upper crust familial anxieties but a slow-burn slasher that remains stuck on wanting to be a psychological thriller. But the similarities with “Joshua” is not unwarranted given the camp quality of both films, the ludicrous set-pieces and the unsettling psycho-sexual tension scattered between adult and child. “Orphan” proves itself to be – in its just over 2 hour runtime – not very good at all, a film that trips all over itself in delivering a weak premise that's already a composition of various films throughout the years, particularly “The Good Son”. To synopsise the plotline is to waste precious space on insanely (key word) precocious little girls and hare-brained adults.

However, the film does end up being quite a curios in terms of what it does do right. Despite director Jaume Collet-Serra's (2005's awfully schlocky “House of Wax”) predilection for genre clichés and his generally uninspired approach to the material, its key leads give tremendous energy and technical poise to their performances – especially the unsettling Isabelle Fuhrman playing Esther, the titular Russian orphan adopted by Farmiga's alcoholic Kate Coleman and Peter Sarsgaard's John Coleman when Kate loses an unborn child. Farmiga is reliably effective when playing a ball of nerves and fleshes out her character more than what the script and its ham-fisted direction deserves. And before all else, the film could have really benefited from a snappier pace so there's really no excuse in its extended runtime.

Quite predictably and quite rightly, “Orphan” has raised the ire of pro-adoption groups in its depiction of the anxieties of bringing in “unknown” elements into a household, and perhaps even in the idea of being easily attainable replacements for lost children. However you look at it, the film does possess a streak of gusto that's at the same time admirable and deplorable – it trades in paedophilia and xenophobia on a fundamental level but with no idea on how to wield these themes for greater effect when it pulls its own punches.

“Orphan” is most interesting when the narrative unfolds but the film's start-stop nature hampers its natural flow. Even with the attention paid to the marital fissures in the Coleman's marriage with the introduction of the homicidal Esther, the film is about the idea of a child rampaging through adults with a lethal intent but there's just no getting over its reliance on cheap scares and well-worn banalities of the progenitors it borrows from – including inserting a jaw-dropping final twist that could either enrage or put a little smile across the face.

Movie Rating:

(Overproduced, overdone and overlong – nothing new here but brought to life by a couple of terrific performances)

Review by Justin Deimen


. The Unborn (2009)

. The Uninvited (2009)

. Let The Right One In (2008)

. Joshua (2007)

. The Grudge 2 (2006)

. Whisper DVD (2007)


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