November 22, 2009

Orphan review

Starring Isabelle Fuhrman, Peter Sarsgaard
Now on DVD

Ever watched "The Good Son"? Well, grab that, wrap it up with better special effects, hire someone better than Culkin and tadda, you get Orphan.

But unlike that old crappy movie, there's also a lot more logic to this, and the horror has a bit of a point. When you get to share an appointment with this movie, well, let's say you'll probably get pleasantly surprised.

But before we get to the review, let's meet Esther first.

She's a little girl who is adopted by a family composed of (don't laugh but...) Jon and Kate, plus two children. Kate just recently lost a child and gave up drinking, so she wants to give her love to someone else who doesn't have a family. When Jon establishes a connection to the mature-for-her-age Esther, Kate thinks she's found the one to adopt. Things don't go so well when she's released to the wild, however.

A nun suddenly doesn't come back to the orphanage, a kid gets pushed down a slide, and someone's gun seems to have one bullet less. Coincidence? Kate doesn't think so. Kate's intuition points all arrows to Esther, but no one seems to believe her. Even the psychologist likes her more than Kate.

There, if you have yet to watch "The Good Son" the two are kinda similar. Then again, even if you don't really know anything about "The Good Son", you'd still find the premise of Orphan pretty damn familiar.

It isn't really obvious when you watch such a strong first part. The movie shows promise, actually, but it may be just because newcomer Isabelle Fuhrman makes a strong turn as Esther, and she just knows how to strike a balance between sickly sweet and sickly... just sick. Her sweetness isn't too much, so you too are actually attracted to her unprecedented charisma, but her sick side will actually impress you because it truly makes you believe that she has something in her head.

Despite her performance, the movie doesn't do her efforts justice. In the end, you'll feel like you watched another horror movie. But I'll be damned if I didn't say I actually felt a bit of sustained suspense over there. I mean, yeah, there's suspense, but the scares mostly don't even work. It's like, "okay, let's use our collection of suspenseful music and psyche the viewers". Not only is that technique so cliche, it's also damn funny.

Also funny is the climactic last part of the movie. The final "moral choice part" of the movie just made me burst out laughing, I mean, there was such a lot of build-up, it could only be predictable. And when the moment did come, I couldn't resist. I just burst out laughing like hell.

That doesn't mean that the movie is bad, it's actually quite competent. The huge twist behind the Esther mystery is actually compellingly unique (although it's kinda lazy in a way), but overall, the movie does entertain. There are a few moments of sharp writing and genuine suspense, but it ends up becoming an average movie.

Really, the only real reason to watch this is to watch Fuhrman and see how much of a promising star she will be. I see a future for her, and that future doesn't have to involve Peter Sarsgaard having an affair with her as a college professor. That's already been done.

Rating: 6.5/10

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