Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review: Orphan

Orphan (2009)
Genre: Horror
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Jaume Collet-Sera

Orphan may seem to be another entry into the demonic children sub-genre but its heavy emphasis on the reality of complex dynamics of a troubled family really separated it from the rest of the pack. The movie succeeded in assaulting both my expectations and emotions because it dares to dwell inside the dark places where these kind of movies tend to avoid to even remotely visit.

The cheesy tag line says it all: There's something wrong with Esther. When a couple decides to adopt an older child to add to their family of four after a tragic miscarriage, they couldn't help but be drawn to Esther, a seemingly astute 9-year foreign orphan at a local orphanage. It doesn't take long before the innocent, naive little Esther becomes something of an evil abomination that is threatening to destroy everyone in the family. No one is safe from the dangerous Esther, even though she seems to love the attention from a certain member of the household. Not much is known of Esther's past until the film's shocking finale and the movie doesn't take any shortcuts in building enough dread and violence leading up to that point.

Part of the film's success is it's in-depth character building. Even before Esther shows up, you get to learn more about the couple and their children. The clever thing here is that once that evil child becomes a part of their lives, you are not just watching the progression (or regression if you will) of that despicable being but also the unravelling of the entire family. The movie is as much as a heartfelt family drama as it is a viciously unforgiving adult thriller and it works magnificently on both accounts. Many adult themes are explored, unfortunately with Esther as the catalyst. The doom that seems to have easily befallen the family feels real - it is hard to watch some of the scenes involving violence towards children and I can only imagine that difficulty being quadrupled for those who actually have kids of their own. Peter Saarsgard and Vera Farmiga, who play as the couple, did a tremendous job portraying a husband and a wife who are being torn apart by a sudden force that they do not understand. The way they peel off layers upon layers of past disappointments adds to the believability of the movie.

Orphan is a surprise find. It's a focused work that goes beyond your typical horror production. There is definitely something wrong with Esther but fortunately, that only creates a very interesting piece of adult entertainment for us. It is one of the better movies released this year, horror or otherwise.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Blake said...

I will have to give a whirl then based off your review. I wasn't going to rent it.

But I will see it and let you know what I think. We tend to think differently when it comes to horror movies.

Which is always interesting and enjoyable.

Speaking of horror movies. Get your hands on Splinter, I thought that was a great little horror flick.

Loner Gamer said...

Hope you'll enjoy it. I did see Splinter a couple of months ago. It was pretty good for a low-budget film.