Review of Orphan (2009)

28 Jun

Orphan (2009) is a thriller/mystery/horror film about a couple adopting a child who turns out to be not what they expected.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown (2011), House of Wax (2005)).

Written by David Johnson (Red Riding Hood (2011), Wrath of the Titans (2012)) and Alex Mace.

Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Vera Farmiga, Isabelle Fuhrman, CCH Pounder, Aryana Engineer, Margo Martindale and others.

I put off watching this for a long time, because I’ve already heard the twist and felt no interest in seeing another generic evil children movie.

But from the first moments I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting shots and a clear tone. The movie looks great, it has this modern horror movie color corrected desaturized look, while not looking washed out and bland.

So there’s this couple, they’re all like “Boo-hoo, our baby died, let’s get a new one from the baby-pound… uh, I mean, orphanage.” and the orphanage-lady is like “Here’s our selection, take your pick. But choose wisely, you can take only one.” Yes, she is Prof. Oak from the Pokemon games. The husband decides to wander around the orphanage, because… who wouldn’t? He stumbles upon a girl all by herself painting in one classroom. She is good at it and speaks eloquently for her age. So they decide to take her home. It’s as easy as that.

I’d take that girl as well. Wait, that didn’t sound right. I mean, how often do you have the chance of getting a guaranteed intelligent child? Judging by the other kids these parents have, their genes produce a lot less brain than being annoying and deafness. Esther, the orphan girl, is pretty likable, so she’s an interesting villain. I would be ecstatic to have her as a child, sure, she’s a bit weird and acts like an asshole to most people, but she’s a fucking prodigy.

Soon it turns out, they’ve gotten a bad girl at the orphanage. Isabelle Fuhrman is brilliant in the role, I’d say she’s one of the most promising child actresses I’ve ever seen. She and Chloe Grace Moretz are currently my two favourites, they both have in common a screen presence way beyond their years. Also the little deaf girl does a good job. Jimmy Bennett is awful, I hated him.

Vera Farmiga is definitely very good here, she sells the most important part, Esther’s impact on the family, by portraying this complete psychological breakdown. Peter Sarsgaard kind of does ok in the role, it’s believable, but at the same time he doesn’t do very much. There is one scene where he is drugged and he looks kind of sleepy, but it seems like he’s been that way the whole movie.

The movie is like a mix of Good Son (which I liked, unlike most critics) and The Omen or Child’s Play. It’s a pretty sick and twisted movie if you think about a lot of the implications, I wish, I didn’t know the plot twist before seeing it, but I still enjoyed it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it’s a fun watch. I could illustrate by saying that the best quote of the movie is “I’m not your fucking mommy!”

Overall, it’s very entertaining, I enjoyed it a lot and if you don’t stupidly take it as some commentary on adoptions, you’re going to have fun. Recommended.

“Daddy, I can’t sleep, I have daddy issues!”
“That’s alright, Princess, I’ll just get undressed and I’ll come sleep next to you.”
“Yay, I’ll need therapy!”

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