Friday, July 24, 2009


Tonight I saw Orphan, starring Vera Farmiga and Isabelle Fuhrman.

There is nothing spookier than a creepy kid.

When we meet this film's creepy kid, Esther (Fuhurman), she is calmly painting in her Catholic orphanage as the other kids attend a "party" where adoptive parents come to choose a child. One of the dads is John Coleman (Peter Sarsgaard) and he stumbles upon her, immediately drawn to her polite manners and impressive art. His wife Kate (Farmiga) soon joins them and also develops a fondness for the Russian Esther, agreeing she should become their new daughter.

But the Colemans aren't childless—they have a biological son and daughter at home. They are simply trying to overcome their grief of losing a stillborn daughter in recent years. Soon Daniel (JImmy Bennett) and deaf Max (Aryana Engineer) have to welcome Esther as their sister.

All goes well for a day or two until Esther retaliates against the school bully (who, let's face it, deserves it) and pushes her off a high slide on the playground. She survives the fall with some broken bones, but since her little sister covered for her, no one is even sure Esther did anything wrong.

Esther grows closer to dad, acting nothing but angelic in his presence, but appears often in places she shouldn't, like in the parents' bedroom when they're having sex; in the kitchen when they're having sex, etc., and drops an F-bomb on mom when she tries to discuss it with the child. Kate is very uncomfortable with her behavior.

When something awful happens to the nun that came to warn the couple that something may be mentally wrong with Esther, Kate suspects the worst, but John doesn't want to jump to conclusions.

Soon everyone remotely associated with little Esther is in danger of her wrath (did I mention she's fond of guns, hammers, bricks, etc.?) and John and Kate are having marital troubles (which seems to be fashionable these days, if your names are John and Kate, but I digress).

All of the conventional horror tricks are there (calm house, sweeping score, snowfall, shattering glass) and they even bring an old Bible into the mix for no apparent reason. The family is believable, the kids are brilliant actors, and though the story is formulaic, the pace moves so fast the audience doesn't have chance to get bored.

I was slightly annoyed by the supposed accent of the main character, but the ending (which is mighty twisty) may actually justify it.

For an entertaining, action-packed horrific romp with a demon-seed starlet in control, don't shy away from this one. You'll stay on the edge of your seat until the very end.


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