Orphan Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra Cast: Vera Famiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Aryana Engineer, Isabelle Fuhrman Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins Rating: R Release Date: July 24, 2009
Plot: A married couple (Famiga and Sarsgaard) adopt a child (Fuhrman) and slowly find out that the newest addition to their family isn’t who she appears to be.
Who’s It For? Anyone who wants to feel a decent summer thrill, but horror fans especially will be patient with the film. All will be rewarded with a good twist that is quite difficult to foresee.
Expectations: An evil-child movie that is coming out mid-summer? Expectations were low for a horror flick that appeared to have high predictability.
Actors: Vera Famiga as Kate Coleman: This loving head of the house runs through a whole list of emotions, as she begins trying to nurture the new Esther and in turn becomes the mother who cried wolf. Famiga does a fine with this demanding role, even if the script attempts to make her character's past a bit melodramatic. Score: 6
Peter Sarsgaard as Ben Coleman: Especially compared to his on-screen wife, this is a pretty pale performance. As for character construction, Ben is a flickering light bulb of a human being, whose molasses brain work brings the intelligence of Orphan down a few IQ points. Score: 3
Ayarana Engineer as Max Coleman: Her big eyes and sweet face are the result of good casting, as the character of Max relies entirely on expressions. Though she is only really given the duty of expression, she proves to be a more sufficient example of child-acting than her on-screen brother, (Jimmy Bennett). Score: 5
Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther: Don't think Damien too early with this character, Fuhrman does an impressive job making this wicked child more sinister than bratty. The Washington D.C native's Russian accent wavers a bit in the beginning, but she does a surprisingly good job with all levels of her character. Fuhrman maintains believability when starting at sweet and going from crazy and then speeding to super crazy. And as wicked as the twist is, she is able to play along until the very end. Score: 7
Talking: A few corny lines slip through the cracks, but there's nothing spectacularly stupid here. Esther is a creepy little girl because of her actions - not by what she says. Score: 5
Sights: Collet-Serra has a few camera tricks, like the ol' "doorknob reflection" trick. However, much of the cinematography is pretty invisible in Orphan, and at the same time does little to retract from the experience. Score: 5
Sounds: You've got to love when a horror movie follows up the end to its onscreen mayhem by playing something that's not a disposable tune by an in-the-moment metal band. Orphan chooses instead Jimmy Durante, who croons his way through "That's The Story of Love," as sung by Esther earlier in the film. Certainly a more stirring choice. Score: 7
Without correlations to something like The Omen, Orphan feels like it would have a nice home in the 1970's, as the film wants to be more eerie than gruesome, even if it does meet the modern horror-movie blood quota. Much of the thrilling psychological potential of Orphan is marred by the B-movie naivety that runs rampant through the Coleman house, an unnecessary dumbness that is continued by Collet-Serra's implementation of cheap and pointless "jump" scares. However, a fun-to-watch lil' villain and an A-movie twist redeem the sometimes clumsy first two acts, and making the surprising Orphan a bit special.
Final Score: 6/10