August 4, 2009

Theatrical Review: Orphan (2009)

"There's something wrong with Esther all right... she's a sick little twist!"
Cast Members of Note- Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, CCH Pounder, and the creepy little Isabelle Fuhrman.

John and Kate (not plus fucking 8) are two loving parents that have recently suffered the trauma of a stillbirth. Realizing that alcohol and random sex with strangers isn't going to make the pain go away, Kate decides that adopting a child will make them feel better, so they begin their search for a "fill-in" kid. Unfortunately for them, they find the creepiest little bitch on the planet, fall in love with her unsettling charm and art skills, and take her home to join the family. 

They are so screwed.
Soon enough, Esther the Orphan begins sneaking around, singing creepy songs, manipulating her siblings and father, setting things on fire, attacking other kids, killing animals... I don't want to say much more at risk of playing the spoiler, but trust me when I say the girl has issues... really, really big issues.

"Ssh, I'm going to... oh wait, you're deaf."
Life begin to unravel slowly for the family, with things getting progressively worse until they eventually end up being torn apart and forced to fight for their very lives. Will Esther get her evil way? Will mom kill the sassy little bitch and save the day? Will dad get his head out of his ass long enough to see what's happening? I won't spoil what comes next here, but suffice it to say that things get very, very creepy.

Yep, that picture just about sums it up.
I went in to Orphan thinking that it would be just another in a long line of cookie-cutter, PG-13-ish, typical Hollywood messes. You know the kind of movie that was afraid to throw caution to the wind and really go for it? Well, I was wrong. Orphan didn't play it safe at all, and in fact, it pushed the limits of disturbing quite often. To say that I was surprised with some of the places that this film went would be putting it mildly. This is also a gorgeous film too look at; the camerawork capturing the mood through sparse winter landscapes which always make for a gorgeous setting. I'm a sucker for a snowy setting, what can I say? 

Stop staring at me!
The performances are really the strength of this movie. Vera Farmiga is a fantastic actress whom I've loved ever since her days on the short lived show (which shouldn't have been canceled), Touching Evil, and she's as brilliant as ever here. She carries the film for the most part, and proves that she is more than capable of doing so. Peter Sarsgaard is good here as well (as always), giving us his usual whiny best, but it's really Isabelle Fuhrman that steals the show as the titular character. She was brilliant and creepy, from her Russian accent to her mannerisms; this girl just pulled a Dakota Fanning and made everyone in Hollywood sit up and notice her, and there is nothing but a bright future in front of her.

Hunger Games, anyone?
In thrillers like this, it's very frustrating to me when a character knows/suspects whats going on, and everyone around them either thinks them bat-shit crazy or just wont listen to them until it's too late. That just always feels like a lame plot device to me.

"Allow me to play for you the song of my people."
It takes an awful lot of dedication to put your own arm into a table vise and clamp down on yourself until it breaks... through the skin. It's not very easy to watch either. I cringed.

Then again, she was crazy.
There's plenty of kid-induced violence throughout this one, including but not limited to brick violence, hammer violence, vise violence, random stabbing/cutting, plenty of attempted murder... This is one violent and twisted little flick. 

Of course there's violence, did you think there was going to be nun? See what I did there?
A few sassy little sex scenes, but alas, no Vera Farmiga T&A.

"Don't worry. You'll go to Heaven." or "You're not... my... fucking... daughter!" 

Pretty soon you're going to have no daughters.
Thorough background checks are advised when adopting kids.

Quick, is this Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club, or Esther?
Original, well made, creepy, disturbing, and released theatrically in the U.S.? Sign me up, please. I thought it would suck, and I instead came away from it really, really pleased. This is the kind of flick we need to support theatrically, so get off of your butt's and go see it. 


Orphan is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

I wish Vera Farmiga would adopt me.


  1. Totally Ally Sheedy. She immediately came to mind when I first saw that screen cap.

  2. Totally agree about Vera; she, and your review, make me want to watch the is movie, despite not usually being into the "creepy kid" genre.

  3. omg ester is such a bitch
    loved the movie
    hated the little girl