Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Orphan(age) Should Be Shut Down

Horror movies have taken on many guises, the slimy Alien in space, the dream killer, the serial killer and even killer babies. So now we get a young child who has developed her own taste for murder. This seems like an idea out of some twisted fairy tale. The sad thing about it is this move may be the beginning of the next trend in scary movies. "Orphan" is more of a suspense movie than horror but the previews and commercials sell it as a horror story.

The movie starts with every expecting parents nightmare, the loss of their infant child. This not only devastates them but almost breaks their marriage. Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) Coleman struggle each day with this loss, Kate seems to struggle the most, she has nightmares and turns to alcohol as a solution, this only makes the marriage weaker. One day while drunk, Kate has their younger child out on the water, the ice breaks and if it wasn't for John turning up when he did the families horror may have included the lose of their other daughter Max (Aryana Engineer). Struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy in their lives, the couple decides to adopt another child, turning to a local orphanage run by Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder), the couple take a tour of the facility and there John comes across a child alone in her room painting, John is immediately taken by Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman). Kate comes into the room and begins a conversation with the young girl and is also swayed by the child.

Almost as soon as they welcome Esther into their home, however, an alarming series of events begins to unfold, a young girl who has picked on Esther in school is pushed from a slide and breaks an ankle, Max witnesses Esther push her but because Esther pays so much attention to Max and has even learned sign language to communicate with her, Max tells her parents that she saw Brenda (Jamie Young) slip. The Coleman's oldest child Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) wants nothing to do with Esther, he says his friends make fun of him in school because of her. Things take a decidedly worse turn, when Sister Abigail come to the house and mentions the fact that she has been looking into Esther's past, she says she has found several odd things, and she also mentions the fact that Esther's last adopted family was all killed in an arson fire, Esther just barely made it out alive.

This information leads Kate to believe that there's something wrong with Esther, the sweet little facade is just a ruse, if she knew that at the same time Esther and Max were out on the road planning on stopping Sister Abigail Kate would have never believed how far Esther was willing to go to keep her secret. Esther pushes Max into the road when Sister Abigail is passing by, this cause her to swerve her car, using this Esther sneaks up on Sister Abigail and kills her, Max is so scared that she will be next she helps Esther hide the body. No longer trying to pretend to be anything but cold and calculating in front of Max, Esther tells Max that she will shoot mommy if Max tells. Seeing the two girls come out of his tree house Daniel tries to hide but is seen by Esther, that night while he is asleep, Esther comes into his room and holds a carpenter blade to his neck, she asks him what it was he saw in the woods, Daniel tries to tell her he just saw the two coming from the tree house. Esther holds the blade to Daniels privates and tells him if he mentions anything she will cut it off before he even knows what its used for. This so intimidates Daniel that he refuses to even talk about her after that.

Esther tries to break down the relationship between Kate and John, she keeps telling John that mommy doesn't love me, John tells her to do something nice for mommy, Esther picks the roses that Kate has planted in memory of their daughter Jessica. This breaks Kate's heart and in an act of true madness Esther puts her arm in a vise and breaks it, telling John it was Kate. Esther also sets the family cars gear shifts in reverse while Max is still in the car. The car narrowly escapes an accident. When Daniel is able to get alone with Max he asks her what happened in the car, Max points out some of her drawings and Daniel figures out what Esther was doing in the tree house, of course Esther hears Daniel talking to Max, when Daniel goes to the tree house he is surprised by Esther and she proceeds to lock him in as she sets it on fire. Later at the hospital she tries to finish the job of killing Daniel, she is stopped only because Max isn't willing to let her go that far.

By now Kate has contacted an agency in Russia and the information she gets is shocking, it seems the institute where Esther was is not an adoption agency but a mental hospital. The child has a long history of trouble following her. By the time Kate is able to make it to the house Esther has taken control of the situation there, John is getting drunk and Esther is making her move. Telling Esther that she is wrong and that they have to do something about this situation John seals his fate. The ending give us the expected confrontation between Kate and the real Esther, in the one place that the movie makes obvious from the beginning. Marketed as a horror movie, Orphan fails to entertain, as a thriller though this movie has it's moments, the psychological horror is there and it makes this movie tolerable, still all in all, I still can't find anything here worth a recommendation.

I give The Orphan a 1 and on my avoidance scale I give it a 1 again, wait a few weeks and this one can be watched in the comfort of your own home. One thing I can say for this movie, they never give us the scene where someone closes a medicine cabinet and standing behind them is the "bad" guy we do get such a scene but the person in the background is just John. There isn't any thing in this movie that will make your pulse race, not even the expected conclusion.

The Orphan is rated R for Disturbing Violent Content, Some Sexuality and Language
Running time is 2 hrs. 03 mins.

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