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A 2009 American horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

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Strong Cast Shines In A Slow-Paced Thriller

  • Dec 8, 2009
Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and CCH Pounder give excellent performances, but it's the kiddies who steal the show in "Orphan."

Farmiga and Sarsgaard star as Kate and John Coleman, a successful and loving (or so it seems at first) couple with two children and the desire to adopt another when Kate's third child is stillborn. They believe that they've found the perfect child in Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a nine-year-old Russian orphan who is sugary sweet, highly intelligent, and very artistic.

Once Esther arrives at the Coleman home, she is immediately met with resistance by the Coleman's son, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett), and takes their deaf daughter, Max (Aryana Engineer) under her protective wing. She is also teased at school for her dresses and the Bible she carries with her.

Slowly the viewer sees sweet Esther turn into a very dark and sinister little girl. Not only does she seek out revenge on those who pick at her, but she begins to manipulate Max and force her to help out with her dirty work.

Esther also opens old wounds from Kate and John's past and drives a wedge between them. Kate becomes suspicious of Esther and seeks out more information on her newly adopted daughter. The head mistress of the orphanage, Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder), tries to help Kate and becomes a target for Esther as well.

As Esther's dark past is revealed, her actions become more wicked and, in some cases, fatal. It is at this point that the film begins to rely on well-worn cliches that have been trod out in a number of other films about evil children, particularly "The Good Son" and "The Omen."

Naturally there is a twist thrown in near the film's climax in order to give a motive to Esther's madness, and while it is rather sickening, it's not that big of a surprise.

Overall, the film isn't that bad. However, clocking in at a very slow moving 120-plus minutes makes for a somewhat boring experience. I'm assuming that director Jaume Collet-Serra was trying to build suspense by drawing out the film, but it makes for a lackluster thriller in the end. Even the climactic battle near the end of the film is drawn out and rather unbelievable. It's almost as if the film is attempting to be a psychological thriller and a slasher flick at the same time.

Again, the film really isn't that bad, just too long and a bit boring at times. The children all shine in their roles, particularly little Aryana Engineer, whom I believe does an excellent job as Max. Her performance is overshadowed somewhat by Fuhrman's turn as Esther, but she still shines on her own.

So is this film worthy of purchase? If you enjoy psychological thrillers involving young children then, yes, I say go out and buy it. However, I do recommend to everyone else that you rent this film first. It's good, but I have no plans to add it to my permanent collection any time soon.

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December 27, 2010
This was the type of movie that had a flawed script, devices that required a suspension of disbelief and yet the acting saved it from a total loss. Great review!
More Orphan reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Desperate to watch something last night, I flipped this movie on.  I really was not expecting much as it seems good horror is hard to find.  I ended up watching "Orphan" - was I disappointed?  Well, it is hard to say; this film completely irritated me at times with it's sometimes lousy dialogue, it's occasional unrealistic scenes, the husband's ignorance - yet it totally engrossed me.            John and Kate Coleman (played …
review by . October 29, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Horror Comes In Small Packages...?
      The taboo subject of killer tykes on the loose have always been touched on by filmmakers; “The Good Son”, “Joshua”, “Pet Semetary”, the Korean film “Hansel and Gretel”, “The Bad Seed” are good examples. Even Troma came up with the utterly awesome “Beware: Children at Play” (in my opinion is the one that really pushed the envelope) and “Grace” which was a grand spectacle of utter discomfort. …
review by . October 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     Movies about adopted children from Hell make me happy any day. Of course, sometimes a bad one comes along to ruin a potentially good time, but more than often, I walk out of such movies satisfied with the new ideas that the filmmaker has explored, and the new evil kid that they have successfully introduced. I like to believe that "The Omen" popularized the trend of killer kids in movies, and while few can truly outweigh that one in spectacle and quality, there …
review by . July 10, 2011
For that small selection of motion pictures that approach greatness and fall far short of it, this is a particularly notable entry. In the '70s, no major studio would touch something this audacious, and no filmmaker who engaged it would dare to dilute it to satisfy tender sensibilities. However, this is an age in which the whims of hysterical hausfrauen and other gluttonous, shrieking, hypersensitive demographics determine commercial success and failure, in which anything that's not distributed …
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
this movie is a trip. its a pretty good story but the ending is the best part. a total suprise!
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
So scary!
review by . October 16, 2009
For those of you that like thrillers like "Single White Female," "Fatal Attraction," or "Audition," this is another shocker in the same vein. Although "Orphan" has some genuine thrills and scares, it made me feel a little unclean at times.    When "Orphan" begins, we meet the Colemans: Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Saargard), and their children Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) and Max (Arayana Engineer). After the stillborn death of their third child, Kate and John decide to adopt …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #16
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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A husband and wife who lose a baby adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be.Genres:Suspense/Horror and Thriller Release Date:July 24th, 2009 (wide) MPAA Rating:R for disturbing violent content, some sexuality and language. Distributors:Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution See Full Details

A bad seed with a Russian accent, 9-year-old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) is a nasty little girl with a nasty little plan. Unfortunately, this malevolent tyke has landed in the home of adoptive parents Kate and John (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard), an unsuspecting couple with two kids of their own and considerable grief over recent family tragedies. It doesn't take long for Esther to make her creepy presence known, as broken limbs on the playground and torched tree houses can attest. Give this movie some credit--the psychological underpinnings are all set carefully in place: Maternal trauma? Check. Backyard pond as emotionally charged danger zone? Check. Feminist parable about husbands not listening to troubled wives? Check. The casting of reputable actors such as Farmiga and Sarsgaard also ups the movie's class quotient; Farmiga in particular has an emotional workout, and this gifted actress strikes few false notes even as the scenario becomes increasingly lurid. (There's some déjà vu here: Farmiga also played a mother realizing her kid was "not right" inJoshua, a much superior film.) Director Jaume Collet-Serra, ofHouse of...
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Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Release Date: July 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 2 hr. 3 min.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution, Warner Home Video
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