FILM REVIEW ORPHAN 2009
Quite a clever and creepy horror movie about an apparently psychotic child adopted from a Catholic orphanage by a troubled young couple.
Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) is a very troubled woman. Her son is an arrogant eight-year-old rebel. Her younger daughter is a deaf child, traumatized by a near drowning in the local river, and during her Mother’s alcohol fuelled negligence. Recovering from alcoholism. She loses a third child at birth, and decides to adopt.
The girl adopted from the Catholic agency is Esther, a loner with strong artistic skills that seem way ahead for her age. After initially fitting in with her new family, Esther begins to play them off against one another, and strange accidents befall anyone who upsets her too much.
Kate begins to hate and fear the increasingly psychotic girl, but finds everyone else reluctant to oppose Esther’s growing power over her family.
Though there are teases and red herrings hinting towards supernatural evil being at play, Esther is a very human monster, and though ludicrous, the surprise as to her real identity and motivation is quite impressive.
With a few nods to The Omen movies, and some influence from the novels of Gunter Grass, the story is very well handled and often genuinely shocking. Children get hurt and people die viscously. The scariest moment however is Esther simply handing Kate a bunch of flowers – for reasons very apparent in the context of the story – it’s a moment comparable to the Bunny Boiler scene in Fatal Attraction.
There are a few glaring errors here. Esther has her Bible torn to pieces by a child who is rash enough to bully her at school, but she is later seen with it quite intact again. The police hunting for the killer of the nun from the orphanage fail to search the locked tree house that seems rather an obvious hiding place for the murder weapon.
Startling and genuinely scary fare and great fun too. The film upset genuine adoption agencies into worrying that people might be put off adopting, but the chances of ending up with a real life Esther are extremely unlikely.
Isabelle Furhman’s performance as the Gothic and sinister Esther from Romania is unforgettable.
The DVD has some interesting extra scenes; a lack-lustre alternative ending that seems to imitate Sunset Boulevard and a fascinating documentary on other films about killer children.
Orphan, orphanage, film, movie. Adopting, agencies, killer, Omen, supernatural, bunny-boiler, Arthur, Chappell, Fuhrman, Review,