Orphan – A Creepy Kid’s Story
The new horror thriller, Orphan can be summed up in one word… ridiculous. I have to be honest and say that the horror genre is my least favorite, especially those featuring murderous children. I did go to the theatre with an open mind, but Orphan is an over long, tedious movie with a twist that I saw coming from a mile away. That’s not to say everyone will see the twist coming, but a large portion of the audience will. The only saving grace of the film comes in the form of terrific acting by all the leads.
The film is about Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard), a married couple with two children, who are devastated after the death of their unborn child. The death takes its toll on the marriage and in Kate’s despair she turns to alcohol and quickly becomes addicted. After a year spent sober, Kate and John decide to fix their fractured family by adopting a child. At the local orphanage, the pair is drawn to a seemingly angelic little girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman). Feeling a connection to her, they decide to welcome her into their family and bring her home.
Shortly after Esther arrives however, accidents start to happen and Kate begins to suspect that there is something seriously wrong with her. Kate tries to investigate the girls past and convince John that Esther is disturbed, but he basically thinks his wife is losing her mind and is completely unaware of what’s going on around him. There were a few times I wanted to step into the movie and slap him in the face. No man could possibly be this oblivious. Hell, even if I thought my wife was crazy, I’d send the kid back to the orphanage in a heartbeat, if only to alleviate the burden of my mentally instable partner in life.
The movie starts off alright, but as Esther becomes more and more calculated and evil, I found myself giggling and I’m sure that was not the intent of the filmmakers. At a certain point, all believability flies out the window and I found myself frequently checking my watch to see how much time was left. There were even a few times I asked myself why the hell I was watching this retarded film (the simple answer is to review it). Horror movies are usually pretty stupid and I get that you are supposed to watch them for what they are, but it helps when they are actually scary. There are so many staged moments by director,Jaume Collet-Serra, that are meant to make you jump out of your seat, but not one of them delivers. I wasn’t the least bit startled or creeped out by one single moment of Orphan.
In fact, when you watch Orphan online the first half looks more like a little domestic drama than a horror flick. Couple loses baby, wife turns to alcohol, she loses her job and her daughter is hurt in an accident that was caused by her drunken state. Oh yeah, and at some point John also cheated on Kate. All of this is piled on so that we understand why John wouldn’t believe anything Kate has to say about Esther, but really, when nuns go missing and your son is almost killed in a freak fire, even the biggest moron would have to think that maybe your wife might be telling the truth. I also find it hard to believe that John and Kate’s 6 year old daughter, who becomes an unwitting accomplice to Esther’s dastardly deeds, would be able to keep her adopted sister’s secrets, no matter how scared she is. My kids tattle on each other about every indiscretion, real and imaginary.
As I said earlier, the only saving grace to the full movie is the extraordinary acting of the main leads. Vera Farmiga as the mother desperately trying to save her family is brilliant. Even as the story becomes more and more ridiculous, Farmiga’s performance is believable. Peter Sarsgaard as husband, John, also does a fine job as the clueless dad but the real star is young Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther. This kid has chops! Whether she is called on to be angelic sweet or demonically evil, Fuhrman delivers in spades. She flawlessly changes her little miss innocent look to that of pure malevolence in the blink of an eye and may very well be the next Dakota Fanning.
To sum it up, Orphan is a tediously long, ludicrous, want to be clever horror film that is only worth watching online for free for the strong performances of the lead actors. I shudder to think how scary Orphan would’ve been with a lesser cast.